|Budget: $25 million||Financed by: The Weinstein Company; Worldview Entertainment|
|Domestic Gross: Still in release||Domestic Distributor: The Weinstein Company|
|Overseas Gross: Still in release|
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Produced by: Alison Owen
Tulip Fever began its long road to the big screen in 2004, as a $48 million co-production of Miramax and DreamWorks. A major portion of the funding came from the UK tax shelter fund Ingenious Media. Ingenious Media also operated another fund called Inside Track. This tax scheme allowed wealthy investors to write off their investment as a loss on the first day of filming and if that sounds too good to be true, it was — and deemed illegal by the UK government in February 2004. Inside track had already invested £12m into pre-production on Tulip Fever when the tax-hole scheme was criminalized and just decided to write that off as a loss instead of trying to secure more capital by less shady means. Tulip Fever was then shut down and was the biggest production casualty of the tax laws being rewritten. An estimated 40+ movies were shuttered from the new laws.
Tulip Fever remained dormant for a decade. The Weinstein Company brokered a co-financing deal with Worldview Entertainment in 2014 to resurrect the property. Note: The embattled Worldview Entertainment has not backed any more films since a slate of pictures that began production in 2014, when billionaire Sarah Johnson sued the company for $70 million for fraudulently mismanaging her investment in the company.
The budget for Tulip Fever was scaled back to a reasonable $25 million and The Weinstein Company would mitigate their risk through global pre-sales. Production ended in mid 2014 and was first scheduled for release in November 2015. That release date never materialized and after being in the can for over a year, Tulip Fever was then dated in late April 2016 for a limited release on July 15. Less than 10 days before it was set to bow, it was moved to February 24, 2017. Then less than two weeks before its planned February release, it was pushed back to an undetermined date. Eventually Tulip Fever was placed back on the calendar for August 25, 2017 and in mid August was pushed back one week to September 1. The multi-year delay certainly added a few million from interest charges.
In the weeks leading to the opening, buzz was toxic. Due to the delay, the there was the usual hyper-ventilating from publications proclaiming Tulip Fever will be the biggest box office failure of the year and a train wreck of movie. Barely entering the conversation was The Weinstein Company’s slim output over the past two years and apparent financial woes and inability to actually mount a strong release. Regardless of quality (and Tulip Fever looks to be severely lacking in that department), $25 million period movies, with single digit ad campaigns are not the biggest financial disasters of the year. Dozens of movies each year with similar budgets end up straight to video.
In yet another example of just how pathetic deadline.com has gotten since nepotism magnate Jay Penske took over and fired founder Nikki Finke — “occasional contributor” and friend of Penske, Harvey Weinstein was given a platform to penn a ridiculous article defending the merits of Tulip Fever the day before its release. We are treated to such gems as: “Alicia Vikander also reached out to tell me that her mom’s friend gave her a rare call just to tell her how much she enjoyed it.” There’s your poster quote right there. “But it took longer than it should have to get it all done and in our business that means, “Uh-oh! Something must be wrong with it.” Something must be wrong with it, since The Weinstein Company did not screen Tulip Fever for critics.
Tulip Fever was booked into only 765 theaters and the only other semi wide release was the 40th anniversary of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. The reviews that eventually posted were mostly negative and Tulip Fever pulled in just $1,158,017 for the weekend — placing #24 for the frame led by the holdover The Hitman’s Bodyguard. The picture collapsed in its second session 75.2% to $287,717. More as the domestic numbers come in..
At the end of the day, Tulip Fever looks to be your run of the mill Miramax/Weinstein Company movie, that was obsessed over for years and ultimately tossed aside — like Shanghai, The Road, Killshot, Fanboys and many others.