ALMOST AN ANGEL (1990) — Paramount financed this Paul Hogan vehicle for an unreported amount, who was fresh off of Crocodile Dundee 1 & 2 and they positioned the pic as Christmas contender at the box office. Almost An Angel was dead on arrival, placing #14 for the weekend and pulling in a terrible $1,608,365. The pic closed with just $6,939,946 and tanked in Australia with just over $1 million. Paramount posted a $7.3 million quarter loss and blamed big writedowns on Flight of the Intruder and Almost an Angel.
AMERICAN ULTRA (2015) — American Ultra was financed for $28 million by PalmStar Media, Merced Media Partners and FilmNation pre-sold the pic to distributors, which sold very well. A month before filming began Lionsgate acquired US distribution for $7 million. Lionsgate opened American Ultra against fellow openers Hitman: Agent 47 and Sinister 2, which all cannibalized each other at the boxoffice and action holdovers Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and The Man From U.N.C.L.E were also crowding the marketplace. American Ultra was booked into 2,778 theaters and pulled in a terrible $5,454,284 and it saw a 47.7% second weekend drop to $2,851,916. The pic closed its run with just $14,440,985 — leaving Lionsgate with about $7.9 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which covers about 1/3 of their P&A spend. American Ultra became another failed franchise attempt for Lionsgate in 2015, which had high hopes in creating a series for the trainwreck Mortdecai, Child 44 and The Last Witch Hunter. Overseas, American Ultra was a non-performer for the many distributors who overspent on the title during pre-sales and has grossed $10,152,028.
AT FIRST SIGHT (1999) — Val Kilmer received $9 million for this pic, which MGM financed for $60 million and At First Sight opened when Stepmom and You’ve Got Mail were still going strong and courting a similar demo-graph. At First Sight was a huge loss for the studio when it flopped out of the boxoffice with $22,365,133. MGM, which had not shown an annual profit since 1988, took a quarter write-down on The Mod Squad, The Rage: Carrie II and At First Sight. After this and 2000’s Red Planet tanked, Val Kilmer’s studio leading man days were finished.
HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE (2008) — Majority of the $28m budget was financed from Aramid and the rest from Film4 and the U.K. Film Council. The UK film Council gave the film $2.4m in lottery coin and after the film’s poor worldwide total, only $16,000 or 1% was returned back to the Film Council. InTandem handled worldwide pre-sales and Paramount took UK rights. Paramount bid on the US rights, but were denied by InTandem who decided to distribute the film for a fee to have greater upfront profits. MGM ended up picking up the US rights for far below expectations at just $2m. MGM opened the film in 1,750 theaters to an awful $1,430,294 and audiences gave the film a poor C+ cinemascore. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People fell a huge 69.2% in its second weekend to $440,066. It closed its brief run with $2,778,752 which would not even cover a fraction of the soft marketing costs after theaters take their percentage of the gross. Paramount saw the film’s best results with a soft $7m UK gross. The overseas total across multiple distributors was just $16.3m and it went straight to video in France.
LARGER THAN LIFE (1996) — Majestic Films and its majority shareholder, the Italy based RCS financed this Bill Murray vehicle for $40 million and United Artists took on domestic distribution rights. According to Variety, which obtained documents from MGM to potential bidders for the studio, MGM/UA executives expected Larger Than Life to pull in $80 million at the box office. The pic was a disaster and bombed out of release with just $8,315,693. RCS sold off Majestic Film’s library after amounting huge losses in 1996.
MR. SATURDAY NIGHT (1992) — Castle Rock financed this Billy Crystal vehicle for $43 million (including their P&A spend) and the film went out theatrically through Columbia Pictures. Mr. Saturday Night opened below expectations with $4,514,027 when The Last of The Mohicans led the weekend and the pic did not have strong legs at the box office to break out. Mr. Saturday Night dropped 42.3% the following weekend to $2,603,488 and ended its run with $13,351,357.
UNDERCOVER BLUES (1993) — Troubled MGM financed Undercover Blues for $25 million and opened the pic in 1,596 theaters, where it came in a distant #2 for the weekend when The Fugitive led the charts in its 6th weekend of release. Undercover Blues closed its run with $12,324,660 and after P&A costs, MGM wrote off the entire production of the film, along with their other 1993 turkeys, The Meteor Man, Son of the Pink Panther.