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  • Directed By: David Zucker
  • Written By: David Zucker, Robert LoCash, Lewis Friedman, Jeff Wright
  • Release Date: July 31, 1998
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Jenny McCarthy

Box Office Info:

Budget: $25 million Financed by: Universal
Domestic Gross: $7,027,290 Overseas Gross: $0

BASEketball Synopsis

“When slacker friends Joe Cooper (Trey Parker) and Doug Remer (Matt Stone) are challenged to a pickup basketball game against some jocks, they counter by proposing to play a game they learned called “BASEketball,” which combines basketball and baseball. In reality, they are improvising all of the rules, but somehow the sport becomes a hit. A promoter (Ernest Borgnine) forms a popular league, but after his death, a rival owner (Robert Vaughn) wants to change the rules to increase profits.”

Official Trailer

BASEketball Box Office Breakdown

BASEketball was David Zucker’s first directing project since The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear and his first picture outside of the Zucker Abrahams Zucker team — which had produced the goofy comedy classics Airplane!Ruthless People, Top Secret! and The Naked Gun series. David Zucker’s solo outings were a plague of bad comedies that continued with My Boss’s Daughter, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4 and the execrable An American Carol.

David Zucker had been working on a Davy Crockett project at Universal, but it stalled because of the large budget and script problems. He had a first-look deal at Universal and pitched this low-brow and lower budget picture, which landed a greenlight.  The budget for BASEketball was $25 million. The movie was based on a game he invented and played in the 1980s and he had failed twice to turn it into a TV series over the years. A pilot episode was filmed as a TV game starring Chris Rock and then was retooled as an HBO series, where it quickly fell apart because of a terrible script.

Universal initially tried to bring on the Kushner-Locke Co. to split costs on the picture, but no deal was reached.  The studio had a three-year co-financing arrangement, in which Kushner-Locke takes international markets — but Zucker insisted that Universal handle BASEketball overseas through UIP, which was a joint overseas distribution from Universal, Paramount, and MGM. UIP ended up dumping the movie straight to video in almost every overseas market.

Universal dated BASEketball for July 31, 1998, and the studio was in a year-long slump, releasing a string of box office disasters in ’97 and ’98. The studio’s original summer slate consisted of only Out Of Sight, BASEketball, and Virus — but the costly Virus was delayed until 1999. Out Of Sight disappointed during its domestic run, but Universal had hopes that the newfound fame surrounding South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone would translate to big business.

BASEketball bowed against The Parent Trap, The Negotiator and Ever After: A Cinderella Story.  Reviews were awful and the movie had opened into a market saturated with comedies. There’s Something About Mary, was released two weeks earlier and the weekend prior was strangely enough Zucker’s former partner Jim Abrahams’ movie Mafia!. 

BASEketball was dead on arrival with $3,086,105 — placing #11 for the weekend led by holdover Saving Private Ryan. It sank 66.9% to $1,021,860 in its second frame and then promptly lost most of its theater count. The domestic run closed with just $7,027,290.  Universal would see returned about $3.8M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which leaves most of the P&A expenses in the red and the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.

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  1. Shame that no overseas gross is available, I saw this in UK cinema in 1998 with friends so it certainly made some international bank and bought the DVD as soon as it was available. I imagine this was a good seller on home video and the newly emerging DVD market as was a huge demand for Trey Parker / Matt Stone product at time with buzz of South Park, hence why Orgazmo and Cannibal (Alferd Packer) were also being distributed at the time successfully.

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