Mad City

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    • Directed By: Costa-Gavras
    • Written By: Tom Matthews
    • Release Date: November 7, 1997
    • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
    • Cast: John Travolta, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Alda

Box Office Info:
Budget: $50 millionFinanced by: Warner Bros
Domestic Gross: $10,541,523Overseas Gross: N/A

mad city 1997
Universal purchased the Mad City screenplay in April 1994 for low six-figures against mid-six figures.  The project eventually moved over to Warner Bros, which was still considered the home of stars — but 1997 was a troublesome year for WB’s usual hit making formula of placing two A-listers in a tentpole project.  Mad City and Fathers’ Day had spectacular wipeouts at the box office and Conspiracy Theory disappointed.  The budget for Mad City was $50 million and WB fully financed.  After it became one of the biggest flops of 1997, Mad City was expected to have lost $40 million.

While the picture was in production and still expected to be one of the bigger critical and commercial hits of the year, Costa-Gavras’ (Z (1969) and Missing (1982)) movie had a slot reserved for it in competition at Cannes.  Editing was not completed in time for Cannes.  Mad City was then dated for a September 1997 release but was pushed back to November 7.

It bowed against Starship Troopers and the wide expansion of Bean.  Reviews were mixed to poor and Mad City opened with a disastrous $4,649,742 — placing #6 for the weekend led by Starship Troopers.  It sank 52.6% to $2,203,249 in its second frame and quickly ended its domestic release with $10,541,523.  Overseas numbers are not available.

Mad City ended a string of Travolta hits from Get Shorty (1995) to Broken Arrow (1996), Phenomenon (1996), Michael (1996) and Face/Off (1997).  He followed this bomb with the box office disappointments Primary Colors (1998) and A Civil Action (1998). He rebounded with the hit The General’s Daughter (1999) and then had a humiliating 2000 with Battlefield Earth and Lucky Numbers.

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