- Directed By: Hark Tsui
- Written By: Don Jakoby, Paul Mones
- Release Date: April 4, 1997
- Domestic Distributor: Sony
- Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, Mickey Rourke
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $35 million||Financed by: Mandalay|
|Domestic Gross: $11,438,337||Overseas Gross: $8,664,261|
On July 10, 1995 Don Jakoby sold the Double Team spec script (originally titled The Colony) to Sony for $1.5M. The newly formed Mandalay Pictures began development on the project. Former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Peter Guber launched Mandalay in 1995 after he resigned his Sony post in 1994. Guber’s rein at Sony, which began in 1989 was one of the most tumultuous runs at a studio, that ended with Sony taking $2.7 billion loss after his 5 years at the studio. His colossal payout was used to form Mandalay and he inked a domestic distribution pact with Sony and landed a deal with Summit for overseas sales to distributors. Double Team was the third picture from the fledgling production company after their inaugural movie The Fan (1996) crashed and burned at the box office and with critics and their second effort was the success Donnie Brasco (1997).
The budget for Double Team was $35 million and financed by Mandalay. International sales limited their exposure to this turkey. Sony set the release for April 4, 1997. This Jean-Claude Van Damme starrer was helmed by veteran director Hark Tsui (Once Upon a Time in China), who tried his hand at two western productions (the next up was the Van Damme pic Knock Off) with pathetic results. Upset with interference and the abysmal quality of both movies, he returned to Hong Kong cinema.
The muscles from Brussels’ drawing power had been fading after a string of flops starting in 1995 and after the failures of Double Team & Knock Off, his next picture Legionnaire (1999) was dumped straight to video. He had also burned all of his studio bridges with diva behavior on his poorly performing movies and despite Van Damme toplining Double Team, the movie was really designed to launch Dennis Rodman as a star.
Most of the marketing material featured more of Rodman than Van Damme (and third billed Mickey Rourke was seen only in quick glimpses in the trailer) and both Mandalay and Sony were investing in the Rodman business. Guber had also launched Mandalay Sports Media and in a bit of corporate synergy, they backed a TV movie called Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story. Sony began developing the embarrassment Simon Sez (1999) as a vehicle for Rodman and that travesty thankfully ended anymore studio movies built around him.
Sony was left to sell a ridiculous, campy piece of schlock with a fading star, an overexposed tabloid magnet and Mickey Rourke, whose career had long been in the sh-tter. It should come as no surprise that this landed terrible reviews and it bowed against The Saint, That Old Feeling and Inventing the Abbotts. Double Team opened as poorly as Van Damme’s previous bomb Maximum Risk (1996) and it pulled in $5,034,914 — placing #5 for the weekend led by the holdover Liar Liar. It sank 58.1% to $2,108,589 in its second frame and plunged 63% to $782,040 in its third session and then promptly lost most of its theater count. The domestic run closed with only $11,438,337. Sony would see returned about $6.2M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — far below their P&A expenses.
Van Damme’s international drawing power had also faded and Double Team pulled in just $8.6M across numerous distributors.