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  • Directed By: Mick Jackson
  • Written By: Jerome Armstrong, Billy Ray
  • Release Date: April 25, 1997
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Gaby Hoffmann, Don Cheadle

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 million Financed by: FOX
Domestic Gross: $49,323,468 Overseas Gross: $73,500,000

volcano 1997
FOX fully financed Volcano and greenlit the project with a $70 million budget.  Expenses began to climb when a competing volcano project at Universal Dante’s Peak was also aiming to get in theaters first and both studios began spending more money to accelerate the post-production schedule.

As the public became aware of the two competing movies, a ridiculous game began between the two studios trying to convince the other that their picture would be completed first.  FOX announced in ads that they had completed filming Volcano on October 17, but in actuality filming had been ongoing in front of green screens for at least two weeks after that announcement.  Universal then issued a press release claiming they completed filming on November 6.  Volcano was then dated for February 28, 1997 and Universal scheduled Dante’s Peak for the following weekend on March 7.

In December 1996, Universal paid six-figures for full page ads in 12 publications, including the New York Times, LA Times, USA Today, Time, Entertainment Weekly and Newsweek, which announced that Dante’s Peak would be released on February 7, 1997.  The new date made it impossible for FOX to push Volcano forward, as not only would the vfx not be ready in time, but the studio was locked into the January 31 date for the re-release of Star Wars. Universal won the year long scheduling war and Volcano was moved to April 25.

The budget for Volcano was reported at $100 million after huge cost overages.   FOX gave the movie an event sized marketing blitz to sell this brainless nonsense to the masses and it was expected that Volcano would outperform the disappointing box office numbers from Dante’s Peak.  Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion was positioned as inexpensive counter-programming that weekend and reviews were mixed.

Volcano disappointed with $14,581,740 — winning the slow weekend.  It declined 37.6% to $9,099,743 in its second frame and then fell 50.6% to $4,494,695 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with only $49,323,468.

FOX was expecting the picture to pull in around $125M from the offshore release, but the numbers stalled at $73.5M.  The worldwide total was $122.8M.  FOX would see returned about $67.5M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not even cover global P&A expenses.  FOX announced a $40 million write-down on Volcano.  The movie and the disaster Speed 2 were responsible for a $119 million fourth-quarter loss at FOX’s film division.


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  1. At today’s average $9.01 ticket price, Volcano would have grossed $96.82 million today from the 10.75 million tickets it sold in 1997 at an average of $4.59.

  2. This is one of those movies that has been on cable so many times that I’ve seen the whole film but never all in one sitting. Thank god.

    • I saw both of 1997’s magma-spewing films (or is it lava-spewing) at second run theaters. I preferred Volcano because more landmarks were destroyed, I guess…

      • Both films lost quite a bit money though. Based on the 55/45 domestic split and the 40/60 overseas split, Volcano lost about $43.5 million before marketing and Dante’s Peak lost about $34.7 million before marketing.

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