Vegas Vacation

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  • Directed By: Stephen Kessler
  • Written By: Elisa Bell
  • Release Date: February 14, 1997
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid

Box Office Info:
Budget: $25 millionFinanced by: Warner Bros
Domestic Box Office: $36,400,360Overseas Box Office: $927,232

“When I was making Vegas Vacation, I really wanted to make it a return to the old Chevy Chase that I loved, but for various reasons, it didn’t work. There are moments that are exactly what Mike Wilkins and I had in mind, but there was too much studio involvement.”
–Director Stephen Kessler


Vegas Vacation was the fourth Vacation installment and its failure killed the big screen franchise until it was rebooted in 2015.  This hack job went into production so Chevy Chase would avoid a lawsuit to fulfill a $23M three-picture deal he had with Warner Bros.  His previous two WB movies were the flop Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and the disaster Nothing But Trouble (1991).  Chase had script approval over his projects in the deal and kept rejecting the screenplays sent his way, until he agreed to topline Vegas Vacation to stay out of court.

Chase’s career was running on fumes and he was slumming it in godawful family comedies Man of the House (1995) and Cops and Robbersons (1994).  Vegas Vacation was also retooled into a PG rated family comedy, after the series starter Vacation (1983) sported a R rating and European Vacation (1985) & Christmas Vacation (1989) both landed PG-13 certificates.  Vegas Vacation would mark the last studio movie to topline Chevy Chase.

The budget for Vegas Vacation was an estimated $25 million and Warner Bros fully financed. It was dated for February 14, 1997.  WB decided to market the movie without the possessive ‘National Lampoon’s’ credit in the title, as the label had not seen a hit since National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  This lazy cash grab sequel was not screened for critics and the reviews that eventually posted were dreadful.  It bowed against Absolute Power, Fools Rush In, That Darn Cat and Dangerous Ground.

Vegas Vacation opened with a soft $12,837,927 — placing #4 for the weekend led by the re-release of Star Wars.  It declined 49% to $6,549,243 in its second frame and posted a modest 30.4% dip in attendance to $4,558,084 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with a franchise ending $36,400,360.  WB would see returned about $20M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would almost cover P&A expenses, but the theatrical receipts would not dent the budget.

WB dumped Vegas Vacation straight to video in almost every offshore market.  It pulled in just $927,232 from a fleeting release in a few countries.  Veteran producer Jerry Weintraub hit a major rough patch in his career while stationed at Warner Bros, which kicked off with Vegas Vacation and then two 1998 box office disasters The Avengers and Soldier.

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