For Richer or Poorer

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    • Directed By: Bryan Spicer
    • Written By: Jana Howington, Steve LuKanic
    • Release Date: December 12, 1997
    • Domestic Distributor: Universal
    • Cast: Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley, Wayne Knight

Box Office Info:
Budget: $35 million Financed by: Universal
Domestic Gross: $31,642,995 Overseas Gross: $1,106,000

for richer or poorer 1997
For Richer or Poorer was the final movie from The Bubble Factory at Universal and this flop was also their highest grossing picture.  Here’s a brief look back at The Bubble Factory.  The company was founded by Sid Sheinberg, who had run MCA Inc., (parent corp of Universal).  In 1990 MCA was acquired for $6.59 billion by the Japanese conglomerate Matsush-ta.  Then in 1995, the Canadian liquor company Seagram bought 80% of MCA for $5.7 billion and after 34 years of running MCA, Sheinberg’s reign ended.  He was given a seat on Seagram’s board and the giant entity agreed to fully finance his new production company The Bubble Factory.  Sheinberg was given full autonomy to greenlight 3 to 4 movies per year for 5 years with budgets between $35M and $40M and without approval from Universal.  It was widely known that the reason he was given such a fantastic production deal was his close relationship with Steven Spielberg, who made it very clear that as long as Universal kept Sheinberg in-house, he would continue to make films for the studio.  Universal did not want the arrangement with The Bubble Factory, but they were desperate for Spielberg to direct The Lost World: Jurassic Park and the deal with Sheinberg was launched.

The Bubble Factory was a disaster, that quickly churned out a series of lousy movies that all flopped.  Most of their output was turning old TV programs into features and the first movie out of the gate was the bomb Flipper (1996).  Next up was That Old Feeling and two weeks later was the trainwreck McHale’s Navy.  At this point Spielberg had finished The Lost World, but he went off to focus on his fledgling company DreamWorks and had no other projects lined up to direct at Universal.  Just two months after the McHale’s Navy & That Old Feeling embarrassment, Universal wrote Sheinberg a massive check for an undisclosed amount and ended their relationship with The Bubble Factory.  Universal had two more Bubble Factory releases to waste money and time on — A Simple Wish set for July and For Richer or Poorer dated for December 12.  Both died at the box office.

And now back to this film The budget for For Richer or Poorer was $35 million.  The Bubble Factory hired TV director Bryan Spicer, who made the leap to features with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995) for both McHale’s Navy and For Richer Or Poorer.  He successfully returned to his career in television after churning out his three rubbish theatrical jobs.

For Richer or Poorer bowed into a very competitive end of the year marketplace and it opened against Scream 2, Home Alone 3 and the limited release of Amistad.  It would also have competition with the holdover hit Flubber and the following weekend much of the market would go to the openers Titanic and the Bond picture Tomorrow Never Dies.

For Richer or Poorer tanked with $6,015,970 — placing #3 for the weekend led by Scream 2.   It fell 44.1% to $3,360,870 in its second weekend and then saw a 25% uptic in business over the Christmas frame to $4,202,290.  The domestic run closed with $31,642,995.

Universal did not waste much capital on an overseas release and the small offshore run pulled in just $1.1M in theatrical receipts.  The worldwide total was $32.7M and Universal would see returned about $17.9M after theaters take their percentage of the gross.  This would leave some P&A costs in the red and the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.  The USA network took broadcast rights for $4.5M.

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