Title: The Last Full Measure
Directed By: Todd Robinson
Written By: Todd Robinson
Release Date: January 24, 2020
Domestic Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Cast: Christopher Plummer, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Bradley Whitford
Genre: Drama, War
Box Office Information
- Budget: $20 Million
- Financed by: Rainmaker Films, Lightbox Pictures, Provocator, SSS Entertainment and BCL Finance Group.
- Domestic Box Office Gross: $2,949,212
- Overseas Box Office Gross: $415,214
THE LAST FULL MEASURE tells the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (also known as a PJ) medic who personally saved over sixty men.
During a rescue mission on April 11, 1966, he was offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone heavily under fire, but he stayed behind to save and defend the lives of his fellow soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, before making the ultimate sacrifice in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Thirty-two years later, respected Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastien Stan) on a career fast-track is tasked with investigating a Congressional Medal of Honor request for Pitsenbarger made by his best friend and PJ partner on the mission (William Hurt) and his parents (Christopher Plummer & Diane Ladd).
Huffman seeks out the testimony of Army veterans who witnessed Pitsenbarger’s extraordinary valor, including Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), Burr (Peter Fonda) and Mott (Ed Harris).
But as Huffman learns more about Pitsenbarger’s courageous acts, he uncovers a high-level conspiracy behind the decades-long denial of the medal, prompting him to put his own career on the line to seek justice for the fallen airman.
The Last Full Measure screenplay by Todd Robinson landed in a bidding war amongst studios in late 2002 and New Line landed the rights.
Brett Ratner was first tapped to direct the film in April 2003 and then Shekhar Kapur was announced two months later, but the project never materialized at New Line. Throughout the years at New Line, John Cusack, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Andy Garcia, Robert Duval, Lawrence Fishburne, and Amy Madigan had all been attached.
In early 2008 New Line was folded into their parent corp WB’s operations and Robinson hoped WB would take the project out of development hell, but the rights eventually reverted back to him.
The Last Full Measure briefly resurfaced as one of the projects apart of Capitol Film’s sales roster, but once again development went nowhere and the project remained dormant until 2016.
Funding (Mostly) Comes Together
Producer Mark Damon eventually became attached to the project and his sales outfit Foresight Unlimited initiated pre-sales at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
The budget for The Last Full Measure was $20 million and along with some pre-sale coin, production funding was provided by Rainmaker Films, Lightbox Pictures, Provocator, SSS Entertainment – however, there would need to be additional investments to complete post-production.
Filming wrapped in July 2017 and then a deal was reached at the 2017 American Film Market with the BCL Finance Group to fund post-production. The movie went to the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, where Roadside Attractions acquired domestic rights.
A wide theatrical release was planned for early 2019, but it was pushed back to October 25, 2019, and then sent to the January dumping ground on Jan 24, 2020.
Roadside only releases a handful of pictures each year and their fall release in 2019 was the Oscar hopeful Judy, which they gave their full support to throughout the campaign season – and The Last Full Measure was not award-type material, which they felt would benefit from a less competitive late Jan marketplace.
While Roadside Attractions would handle distribution logistics, the P&A costs were raised independently. Mark Damon landed a $25 million investment from Cinevideotech Inc. to go toward a P&A fund for his projects and an undisclosed amount was spent on the release for The Last Full Measure. The P&A spend was likely under $10 million.
The Last Full Measure did have a scaled-back marketing push (in comparison with studio fare) but was supported with 755 TV ads (as per iSpotTV) and the majority of indie pictures do not receive any TV promotional exposure.
A grassroots marketing approach also targeted those interested in the military and faith-based audiences. This audience block was expected to carry the movie.
Box Office Numbers
Roadside booked the movie into 614 theaters and reviews were mixed. It would also mark the final appearance by Peter Fonda before his death in 2019. Roadside’s distribution model usually has a mid-range theater count and if the picture continues to play well over a few weeks, additional markets are added.
The Last Full Measure pulled in $1,058,019 with a so-so $1,723 per-screen average. Not strong numbers, but there was room for the movie to find its audience from word of mouth.
The picture was expected to have steady holds over the upcoming weeks, but it collapsed 56.6% to $459,444 in its second frame and then promptly lost most of its theater count.
The domestic run closed with only $2,949,212.
This would return about $1.5 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would barely dent the modest P&A expenses.
The Last Full Measure was entirely dependent on the stateside market since a war drama about American bureaucracy would have no appeal anywhere else.
This would be reflected in the movie’s financing, which could not fully fund its modest budget from international pre-sales – and Mark Damon is largely considered the architect of the current pre-sale financing model used globally.
And American-centric content aside, visually the movie does not look like big-screen material. Distributors only reported theatrical receipts from Portugal and the United Arab Emirates, with a mere $56,847. The Last Full Measure went straight to video in Germany.
During the last weekend, before COVID-19 led to the shuttering of theaters, The Last Full Measure was still being shown in 36 locations and pulled in just $6,639.
The movie’s commercial fate was sealed far before this virus decimated the industry.
The only remaining scheduled offshore market was Italy, which was expected to open the first week of April and will obviously not materialize due to the pandemic.
Though after the film died stateside, in the best of times, a small military drama like this would only have a token theatrical run internationally.