The Relic

  • Rate Movie
    [Total: 26 Average: 3.5]
    • Directed By: Peter Hyams
    • Written By: Amy Holden Jones, Amanda Silver, John Raffo, Rick Jaffa
    • Release Date: January 10, 1997
    • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
    • Cast: Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt

Box Office Info:
Budget: $40 million Financed by: Mutual Film Company; Paramount; Polygram; Tele München, BBC, Toho-Towa
Domestic Box Office: $33,956,608 Overseas Box Office: $14,068,304

Creative Artists Agency scooped up the theatrical rights to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s novel Relic in 1994, before its publication in 1995.  The project began development at the newly formed Mutual Film Company and The Relic was their inaugural picture.  Mutual inked an equity and distribution arrangement with three overseas companies (Germany’s Tele München, UK based BBC, Japan’s Toho-Towa) and each would invest and distribute in their countries.  All other remaining markets would be pre-sold to distributors, limiting Mutual’s investment into the movie.

Mutual landed a domestic distribution arrangement with Paramount in 1996 and the studio also invested into The Relic.  Paramount also had a co-financing arrangement on select projects with Polygram, which co-financed the production.  In addition, Polygram was tapped by Mutual to handle sales to overseas distributors.

The budget for The Relic was just north of $40 million and filming began in October 1995 with a prime summer 1996 release planned.  The vfx were behind schedule and director Peter Hyams also wanted to add an expensive explosion filled monster chase sequence at the end of the picture.  He lobbied Paramount for the funds to film the revamped ending, which they agreed to and pushed the release to October 16, 1996.  That date was then scrapped and the movie was rescheduled for January 10, 1997.

In the mid to late ’90s, horror studio fare was selling so poorly at the box office that in 1996, the fiasco The Island of Dr. Moreau was the highest grossing horror movie at just $27.6M domestic.  Then three weeks before The Relic opened, Scream (1996) was released and ushered in a new era of meta, hip horror and became the top horror entry of ’96.  As Scream was becoming a phenomenon with each passing week, the irony free, meat and potatoes creature feature The Relic was more in line with ’50s monster schlock and was tracking soft.

The Relic landed mixed reviews and bowed against other genre fare that would all compete for similar auds — Jackie Chan’s First Strike and the turkey TurbulenceEvita and The People Vs. Larry Flynt also expanded into wide release.  The Relic surprised and won the slow weekend with $9,064,143 (narrowly selling more tickets than Scream).  It had a very small second frame decline at 12.7% to $7,915,861 but then fell 49% in its third session to $4,008,970.  The domestic run closed with a disappointing $33,956,608.  Paramount would see returned about $18.6M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — below P&A expenses.

The Relic was expected to have a stronger international run after the soft stateside numbers, but it tanked in most markets and stalled with only $14M.

In a huge $50M broadcast deal with NBC, Paramount packaged the hits Face/Off, In & Out, Kiss The Girls & The Saint with the underperformers The Relic, The Rainmaker & The Ghost and the Darkness.  Also packaged were the non-performers The Beautician and the Beast, Good Burger and Fairy Tale: A True Story.


Leave a Reply
  1. Actually, “Evita” was #2 that weekend with $8.38 million in its first weekend of wide release, expanding from 18 theaters the previous week. “Michael” was #3 with $8.28 million. “Scream” was #4 with $7.44 million. Furthermore, the $4,327 per theater than “Relic” averaged, was dwarfed by the $11,905 per theater average that “Evita” claimed. Albeit, “Evita” was only at 704 theaters that weekend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *