Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil

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    [Total: 5 Average: 3.2]
  • Directed By: Clint Eastwood
  • Written By: John Lee Hancock
  • Release Date: November 21, 1997
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, Jude Law

Box Office Info:
Budget: $30 millionFinanced by: Warner Bros
Domestic Box Office: $25,105,255Overseas Box Office: N/A

midnight in the garden of good and evil 1997
Anita Zuckerman and Arnold Stiefel optioned the rights to John Berendt’s non-fiction book Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil shortly before its January 1994 publication.  The book had made the rounds in Hollywood, where it was passed over and Zuckerman and Stiefel landed the theatrical rights for $520,000 and author Berendt would receive 3 1/2% of the net profits if the movie became a success.

The book was a major success, spending a record breaking 216 weeks as a best seller and when it was on top of the charts in its 96th week in late Feb 1996, Clint Eastwood signed on as director.  There was immense heat around the project, which was expected to be a major awards player and a huge commercial success.  The budget for Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil was initially pegged around $35M, but Eastwood delivered the picture ahead of schedule and under budget and the reported cost was $30 million.  Warner Bros financed.

The prestige picture was dated for November 21, 1997 and all of the hype was deflated when it was met with mixed reviews.  It bowed against the craptastic Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Rainmaker, which would be competing for similar auds.  WB booked Midnight only moderately wide into 824 theaters, with expansions set for the upcoming weeks.

It opened with a soft $5,233,658 — placing #6 for the slow weekend led by Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.  Audiences gave the movie a poor C+ Cinemascore, which did not bode well for its longevity in theaters.  WB increased the location count to 1,080 in its second frame with barely any growth and it pulled in $5,327,105.  It expanded to 1,262 theaters in its third session and fell 44.7% to $2,946,639.  The stateside run closed with only $25,105,255.  WB would see returned about $13.8M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — well below P&A expenses and the budget would be all red.

Overseas numbers are not available.  About three weeks after Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil opened, Chris Pula (WB president of domestic theatrical marketing) was fired after less than a year at the studio.  He was given the axe after being unable to turn rubbish like Mad City and Father’s Day into hits and he was also blamed for the disappointing performance of Conspiracy Theory and the box office failure of Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil.

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