|Budget: $37 million||Financed by: Millennium Films; VIP 4 Medienfonds|
|Domestic Gross: $0||Domestic Distributor: First Look Pictures|
|Overseas Gross: $5,549,200||
Directed by: Bruce Beresford
Produced by: Avi Lerner
The Contract was financed for $37 million by Millennium Films and they also tapped the German tax shelter VIP 4 Medienfonds for additional coin. Millennium also handled sales to international distributors. Millennium was transitioning away from their low budget direct to video action schlock and began investing in larger projects with bankable actors that would help bolster strong international sales. Edison was the first movie that Millennium produced with a top notch cast and also a $37 million budget — and it turned out to be a total stinker that was dumped straight to video and retitled Edison Force. Their first slate of mid to large budget fare were all money losers and with the exception of 16 Blocks, were all serious critical failures — The Black Dahlia, 88 Minutes, The Wicker Man and The Contract. This project first attracted Kevin Costner, because producer Avi Lerner was offering a $10 million payday, but Costner eventually passed and he was replaced by John Cusack. This would mark Morgan Freeman’s second Millennium picture after Edison and his second pairing with director Bruce Beresford after Driving Miss Daisy.
In Bruce Beresford’s book ‘Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants to Do This, and Other Lies from a Life in the Screen Trade‘ he recounts his experience on The Contract. He unwisely attached himself to the movie, even after hating the script and after endless rewrites and financing issues, he was legally unable to pull out of the project. Millennium scheduled 50 days of shooting and pushed forward with the production, even though that was understood it would not be enough time to complete the shoot. Complicating matters was Cusack was told by a staffer that he only needed to work a 5 day week instead of 6 and was also unavailable for the first 9 days of filming — which resulting in plenty of over the shoulder shots with a stand-in. As expected, as day 50 approached, numerous sequences were not filmed and 6 additional days would be required to finish the movie. The producers refused to pay for any more days of filming and inexplicably the bond company also refused to step in and cover the barest of expenses to make sure the finished project was even slightly coherent. Beresford ended up paying for the remainder of the shoot himself.
Once completed in 2005 and shopped around to domestic distributors, The Contract was passed over. In 2007, Millennium chairman Avi Lerner bought a controlling financial share of the small distributor First Look Pictures, which The Contract would go out through. Once intended for a wide theatrical bow, The Contract was dumped straight to video.
The film did see a small theatrical release in some overseas markets, where it cumed $5,549,200 across numerous distributors.