|Budget: $115 million||Financed by: MGM|
|Domestic Gross: $40,914,068||Domestic Distributor: MGM|
|Overseas Gross: $36,714,197|
Directed by: John Woo
Produced by: Terence Chang
MGM financed Windtalkers for $115 million and pre-sold the film to overseas distributors, reducing their exposure to the budget to around $80 million. In July 2001, George Bush gave the Congressional Gold Medal to the four surviving members of the original 29 Navajo code talkers and director John Woo, Nicolas Cage and other cast members were invited to the event. MGM was counting on the news exposure to help build awareness to their expensive pic. MGM originally slated Windtalkers for release in fall 2001, but claim they delayed the pic until June 14, 2002 because of marketing concerns after the September 11th attacks — but it was speculated that the real reason was that accounting rules recently changed where studios had to include marketing expenses upfront, which would have added gallons of red ink to an already red 2001 for MGM. Regardless of the actual reason for the delay, an additional $2 million in interest accrued from the release change.
MGM gave Windtalkers the full support of their marketing muscle and spent $42 million on P&A in the US. The head of MGM marketing Peter Adee said about the marketing blitz: “Everyone thinks we spend like drunken sailors, and they’re right. It’s because it’s an all-or-nothing game. You either open [big] or you die, so there’s a lot at stake.” MGM opened the film against The Bourne Identity and Scooby-Doo and it placed #3 with a very disappointing $14,520,412. Showing terrible legs at the box office, Windtalkers collapsed 54.9% in its second frame to $6,551,131 when Minority Report entered the market and won the weekend and the pic closed its run with $40,914,068. MGM would see back about $22.4 million and after ancillary and TV sales, they took an estimated $50 million write down on this flop. Windtalkers was the third high profile disaster for MGM in 2002 after Rollerball and Hart’s War.
Windtalkers played out as poorly overseas at it did in the US, with major markets France, Germany and the UK posting just over $1 million and Japan was the highest grossing territory with $8.3 million. The overseas cume was just $36.7 million.