The Edge

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    [Total: 7 Average: 3.7]
  • Directed By: Lee Tamahori
  • Written By: David Mamet
  • Release Date: September 26, 1997
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle Macpherson

Box Office Info:
Budget: $30 millionFinanced by: FOX
Domestic Box Office: $27,873,386Overseas Box Office: $15,438,908

the edge 1997
Producer Art Linson began his production pact at FOX in January 1995 and his movies at the studio were all flops: The Edge, Great Expectations, Pushing Tin and Fight Club.  The latter picture caused so much controversy and ruckus at the studio, that it damaged numerous careers of those responsible for its greenlight.  Linson’s final film at FOX was an under the radar pic called Sunset Strip (2000), which was dumped with barely a release.

The budget for The Edge (originally titled Bookworm) was $30 million and it was fully financed by FOX.   In Linson’s tell-all book What Just Happened?: Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line, he talks about some of the difficulties in mounting this production — most of which was caused by Alec Baldwin’s beard.

Days before production was set to begin, Alec Baldwin had shown up to set with a massive beard and it became clear that the studio would rather shutdown the picture and fire & sue Baldwin than have his face obscured from his bushy facial hair.  This ridiculous drama escalated to a point that the fate of the movie was whittled down to the actor giving himself a shave.  Baldwin did show up to set clean shaven and the film proceeded and the production went largely without trouble.

The Edge was dated for September 26, 1997 and according to Linson, the movie was a difficult sell for the marketing department.  A crashed plane, two men forced to survive in the wilderness, one wants to kill the other and a violent bear is also hunting them.  How was that stripped down narrative tough to market?  Now selling a picture with two leads who do not put butts in seats — that was tough.

The last Alec Baldwin film that could be classified as even a modest success was Malice (1993) and then he toplined a string of flops: The Getaway (1994), The Shadow (1994), The Juror (1996), Heaven’s Prisoners (1996) and Ghosts of Mississippi (1996).  The Edge was the last studio movie built around Alec Baldwin, who then gravitated toward supporting roles in studio fare.  The previous big budget studio vehicle for Anthony Hopkins was the commercial disaster Nixon (1995).

The Edge bowed against The Peacemaker and Soul Food (also FOX) and reviews were mixed.  There was some audience overlap with the holdovers The Game and L.A. Confidential and it disappointed with $7,733,445 — placing #4 for the weekend led by The Peacemaker.  The Edge had a so-so 35.2% second frame decline to $5,014,817 but the domestic run closed with only $27,873,386.

The film was a non-performer overseas with a $15.4M cume.  The worldwide gross was $43.3M.  FOX would see returned about $23.8M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — well below P&A expenses and the budget would be all red.  After The Edge flopped, FOX chairman Bill Mechanic told Linson that the studio would lose $10 million on the picture.

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