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  • Directed By: John Singleton
  • Written By: Gregory Poirier
  • Release Date: February 21, 1997
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle

Box Office Info:
Budget: $31 million Financed by: Warner Bros
Domestic Box Office: $13,130,349 Overseas Box Office: $0

rosewood 1997

Former hairdresser to Barbra Streisand turned producer Jon Peters pitched the tragic Rosewood event to Warner Bros and the studio was receptive to the project if they landed a bankable star.  Offers went out to Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes and Laurence Fishburne, who all passed but the production still landed a greenlight with Ving Rhames cast as the lead.  Jon Peters yielded a lot of power at WB in the late ’90s and the controversial producer has since gained minor notoriety for being the clown that demanded a giant spider be added to the trainwreck Wild Wild West.  His career quickly sputtered out after nearly 30 years in the business, from a series of underwhelming box office performances such as Money Train (1995), My Fellow Americans (1996), Rosewood and then Wild Wild West.

The budget for Rosewood was $31 million, which was fully financed by Warner Bros and it was John Singleton’s largest budget to date.   After Singleton’s acclaimed hit debut Boyz N the Hood (1991), his follow up projects were both commercial and critical disappointments Poetic Justice (1993) and Higher Learning (1995) and Rosewood was a return to form for the director.  The movie was expected to land a late 1996 release as a potential awards contender, but Warner Bros dumped the picture.

Rosewood was tossed into the marketplace with little care, as counter-programming to the re-release of The Empire Strikes Back on February 21, 1997.  WB did little in the way of a strong advertising push and booked it only moderately wide into 991 theaters.  Rosewood tanked with $3,154,075 — placing #8 for the weekend led by The Empire Strikes Back.  Auds gave the movie a very strong A cinemascore and it declined a mere 7.7% to $2,909,767 in its second frame.

Also in its second frame, the dumb sex comedy Booty Call opened and a debate erupted over black audiences turning the comedy into a modest success, while the more serious Rosewood was ignored.  Though that pointless debate ultimately comes down to general audiences usually choosing mindless escapism over challenging material.  Rosewood continued to post modest weekly declines, but the domestic run closed with just $13,130,349.  WB would see returned about $7.2M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — below their modest P&A spend and the budget would not be touched by the theatrical receipts.

WB sent Rosewood straight to video overseas.

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