Warriors Of Virtue

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  • Directed By: Ronny Yu
  • Written By: Michael Vickerman, Hugh Kelley
  • Release Date: May 2, 1997
  • Domestic Distributor: Law Brothers Entertainment (through MGM)
  • Cast: Angus Macfadyen, Mario Yedidia, Marley Shelton, Doug Jones

Box Office Info:
Budget: $36 millionFinanced by: Law Brothers Entertainment
Domestic Gross: $6,524,620Overseas Gross: $108,721

warriors of virtue 1997
The concept for Warriors Of Virtue was developed by four brothers Dennis, Ron, Christopher and Jeremy Law.  The Laws had no prior experience in any aspect of moviemaking and in 1993 they put an ad in the Hollywood Reporter looking for writers to pen a story about kung fu kangaroos.  But where do four wannabee producers go with no industry connections and a ridiculously shitty concept?  To your monstrously wealthy father of course.

Joseph Law owned one of the largest Toy manufacturing companies in China and Hong Kong called Smile Industries and he paid for the production expenses and then $20 million in P&A expenses.  The budget for Warriors Of Virtue was $36 million.   Even father Law could sense this was a bad idea and told the LA Times “these are your children, and you don’t want to see them waste so much time and fail.  If I were just [an unrelated] partner, I would have walked away.”  That kind of parenting cost him nearly $30M in losses.

The Law family had ambitious franchise plans for Warriors Of Virtue, as well as an aggressive toyline rollout, which would be handled by the family toymaker Smile Industries.  Sales agent Kathy Morgan was hired to handle global pre-sales to distributors (which kicked off at Cannes 1995) and sales amounted to $17.5 million.  MGM was tapped to handle the domestic release as a rent-a-distributor, where the Laws covered all marketing and distribution expenses and the studio received 15% of the box office receipts for use of their resources.  An animated TV series was also pitched to buyers as part of building Warriors Of Virtue into a brand.

The Laws landed additional licensing cross-promotions, including a book series and oddly enough a balloon line and the just like the movie, the toy line was a bust.  A company that tracks the toy industry sales, Nearly Perfect Data, listed that there were only $140,000 in sales in the US.

Warriors Of Virtue was dated for May 2, 1997 and bowed against Breakdown and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.  Reviews were terrible.  The picture was showing signs of life in pre-release tracking, but it was dead on arrival with $3,277,084 — placing #7 for the weekend led by Breakdown.  At the time of release it was the third worst opening for a movie booked into more than 2,000 theaters, after All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996) and Tall Tale (1995).  Warriors Of Virtue plummeted 66.2% the following frame to $1,109,270 and the domestic run closed with only $6,524,620.  About $3.5M would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross, plus MGM’s fee.

Warriors Of Virtue was dumped overseas and the recorded international cume was a mere $108,721.

Stateside home video sales were a poor $7.69 million (less after resellers take their cut and manufacturing costs).  This was the second ’90s flop featuring anthropomorphic kangaroos, which were also running amok in the cult classic Tank Girl (1995).  A very cheap sequel was produced in 2002 for the video market.

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    • Austin Powers had great legs and success on video leading to a more successful sequel. It just wasn’t something people ran to right away at the time. Breakdown… I think …had Kurt Russell running over his wife’s kidnappers with semi trucks. America f*ck yeah! Sigh.

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