ANTITRUST (2001) — Hyde Park Entertainment’s first film was this dud starring Ryan Phillippe and Tim Robbins, who co-financed the $30 million pic with MGM. MGM opened the film in a crowded marketplace in January, when Oscar hopefuls were expanding into wide release and the teen skewing Save The Last Dance took most of Antitrust’s audience. Antitrust opened in 2,433 theaters and was dead on arrival with $5,486,209 and faded away very quickly with a mere $11,328,094 at the box office. Antitrust played poorly overseas with $637,718 from the UK and a poor $6.8 million overseas haul. MGM took a huge write-down on Antitrust and Heartbreakers, which offset the profit the studio would be pulling in from theatrical and home video sales of Hannibal.
DIRTY WORK (1998) — The ever troubled MGM had its majority shareholder, Kirk Kerkorian give a $500 million cash infusion to the cash strapped studio to continue film operations, which hemorrhaged $53.6 million in write-downs on Dirty Work, Species 2 and Disturbing Behavior. MGM financed the comedy directed by Bob Saget for $13 million, with a P&A spend that would exceed its production costs and ran into some resistance from NBC West Coast president Don Ohlmeyer who after firing Norm MacDonald from SNL, refused to air ads for the movie. Originally conceived as a hard R rated comedy, MGM removed the raunch and released Dirty Work with a PG-13 rating to a dismal $3,634,236 placing #9 for the weekend, when The Truman Show ranked #1. Audiences gave the film a poor C+ cinemascore and Dirty Work sank 52.9% the following weekend to $1,712,666 and quickly bombed out of theaters with a poor $10,023,282 and was dumped straight to video overseas. MacDonald had his followup feature Ballbusted, cancelled by MGM after Dirty Work tanked.
FATAL INSTINCT (1993) — MGM was coming off a miserable 1992, which saw most of its slate of pictures crash and burn at the box office, had another terrible year in 1993 beginning with the stinker Body Of Evidence. Budgeted at an unreported amount and fully financed by MGM, Fatal Instinct opened #6 for the weekend to a poor $3,502,569 — when The Nightmare Before Christmas led the weekend in its third week of release. Audiences didn’t find much funny in the spoof and gave it a toxic C cinemascore and the film was quickly out of release with just $7,839,327.
MANNEQUIN TWO: ON THE MOVE (1991) — Director Stewart Raffill follows up his legendary ‘so bad its good’ Mac and Me with this ill fated sequel that nobody asked for. Financed by the struggling Gladden Entertainment for $13 million and distributed by a reluctant Fox after every studio passed on this junk, Mannequin Two opened with one of the worst numbers on record with $1,692,817 in 1,540 theaters. Mannequin Two fell 52.2% the next weekend to $808,586 and quickly left theaters with just $3,752,428 at the box office. Gladden never produced another film and Gladden and Fox both sued each other claiming both parties owed each other millions from the disastrous run of Mannequin Two. Fox claimed that Gladden owed $4,514,875 from losses that Fox estimates after video sales and Gladden claimed Fox owes them from being pressured “under duress and menace” to deliver Mannequin 2 after Gladden had a slate of 9 movies in a 10 picture agreement with Fox. Gladden’s lawyers quit the case after not being paid and a $4.1 million lawsuit from the three major talent guilds sued Gladden for not paying residuals. The Hollywood financing bank Credit Lyonnais was also owed over $90 million from Gladden. Gladden founder David Begelman, the notorious Columbia chairman in the 70’s who was caught forging actor Cliff Robertson’s name on a $10,000 check and other actors — as well as embezzling $21,000 from the studio, shot himself in the head in 1995 from the fallout of these issues.
THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD (1995) — Scholastic briefly entered the theatrical market in the mid 90’s, which which was met with a mixed reception, with some believing Scholastic selling movies to kids was exploitation and others believing it was money in the bank and nothing nefarious. Both Scholastic films flopped, first The Indian In The Cupboard and then a month later The Baby-Sitters Club. Columbia and Paramount co-financed the film for $45 million and split the costs and revenues for distribution and Scholastic retained a certain backend deal for home video rights. Paramount opened The Indian In The Cupboard in 1,723 theaters, where it placed #6 for the weekend with $7,716,278 — when Apollo 13 and Under Siege 2 led the weekend. After the soft opening, Paramount had high hopes that the film would play out like Free Willy, which had almost the same opening numbers and have a long box office life. The Indian In The Cupboard sputtered out of release with only $35,656,131.
THE MIGHTY QUINN (1989) — MGM/UA financed The Mighty Quinn with Star Partners for an unreported amount and MGM had cold feet distributing the film, which many chalked up to race and MGM’s inability to market a national release with black actors. After being criticized for marketing I’m Gonna Git You Sucka only to black audiences, which despite mild commercial success, was released in major markets months later as an afterthought — MGM took the same approach to The Mighty Quinn. The film received generally decent reviews, but the producers openly criticized MGM for giving the film a regional release and not a national one. MGM said the tracking of the film was predominately black and they even went so far as to demand a kissing scene between Denzel Washing and Mimi Rogers be removed. After making a race issue out of a film with broad appeal, MGM opened The Mighty Quinn in 234 theaters to an ok $1,429,306 but the film grossed just $4,557,214 from being manhandled by its distributor.
THE MOD SQUAD (1999) — Another troubled MGM release this week, The Mod Squad was financed by the lion for $20 million, though that number has mistakenly been inflated to $50 million in the 16 years since its release. The Mod Squad received damning reviews from critics and was one of those misguided projects that would not appeal to those who watched the 60’s television program and had little appeal or name recognition to the youth the film was targeting and its R rating would restrict the youngsters. The Mod Squad came in far below MGM’s expectations with a terrible $6,064,716 and audiences slapped the film with a C- cinemascore and it sank a huge 57.6% the following weekend to $2,568,784 when The Matrix opened. The Mod Squad bombed out of theaters with $13,263,993 and after theaters take their percentage of the gross, would not even cover half of the P&A costs for MGM.
THE WOODS (2006) — Directed by (un)Lucky Mckee, who was coming off his low budget horror success May, got his first and only studio gig directing The Woods back in 2003. MGM/UA financed the film for $12 million and the troubled studio was sold off to Sony, who inherited the title and had The Woods collecting dust on their shelf with possible release dates that would come and go. Finally in 2006 Sony dumped The Woods straight to video and rubbing salt in the wound, stripped the DVD of any features.
ZATHURA (2005) — This belated follow up to 1995’s Jumanji was financed for $65m by Sony and distributed through their Columbia division. After Zathura was tracking poorly Sony held two weekends of sneak previews in over 500 theaters, but the film still opened with a soft $13,427,872 in 3,223 theaters and the family film came in behind Chicken Little in its second week in release. Zathura also had the misfortune of having its second weekend go up against Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the film sank 61.8% to $5,133,592, killing its chance at breaking out at the box office. Zathura saw a modest 31% third weekend decline to $3,541,291 but the film lasted only five weeks in release with $29,258,869. Overseas, Zathura did not fare much better, pulling in a weak $35,062,632. Sony saw an ok $7.6m from the UK, but the film performed poorly in almost every market. The worldwide total was $64.3m and Sony would see back $35.3m after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would leave part of the P&A costs in the red, as well as the budget. After a disappointing 2005, Sony replaced Columbia TriStar prexy of worldwide marketing Geoffrey Ammer after a string of flops that included Zathura, Bewitched, Lords of Dogtown, XXX: State of the Union and Stealth.