PINOCCHIO

Budget: $45m Financed by: Melampo Cinematografica; Miramax
Domestic Gross: $3,684,305 Domestic Distributor: Miramax
Overseas Gross: $37,638,866

“Of course I’m sorry that some people didn’t like the film.  But given that not everyone likes Beethoven’s Ninth, there can also be doubts about Benigni’s ‘Pinocchio,’ no?”

— Roberto Benigni’s Ego

pinocchio 2002 box officeRoberto Benigni’s disastrous update of Pinocchio, with the ill fated decision to put himself in the lead, despite being decades too old, was Italy’s most expensive film at $45 million.  Benigni’s production outfit Melampo Cinematografica bankrolled the production, with $21 million covered from Miramax, who acquired worldwide rights without reading the script — and limited their exposure to their payout by pre-selling rights to other distributors.  The Cecchi Gori Group was set to distribute the film in Italy, but Vittorio Cecchi Gori was arrested for bankruptcy fraud and Pinocchio found its way to their rival Medusa.  Medusa spent $2 million on an advertising blitz in Italy and Pinocchio shattered box office records and grossed $25.6 million.  Outside of Italy the film was a total washout.  Miramax made the decision to dub the movie, which turned a bad film even worse and scheduled Pinocchio as an event holiday film to open on Christmas.  A McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in with Pinocchio figures was launched and despite generally poor reviews in Italy, Pinocchio was picked as its entry for a foreign language film nomination for the Academy Awards — of course it wasn’t nominated.  Knowing Pinocchio would receive awful reviews, Miramax did not screen the film for critics and when reviews finally surfaced, they were as bad as they come.  Pinocchio was booked into 1,195 theaters where it was dead on arrival with $1,151,463 with a $963 per screen average and the few people that showed up gave the film a hateful D+ cinemascore.  Pinocchio declined 52.6% the following weekend to $545,844 and was quickly out of release with just $3,684,305.  Overseas, Pinocchio took in just $12 million across numerous distributors, outside of Italy’s gross and the overseas total was $37,638,866.