Holy Man

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    [Total: 15 Average: 2.1]
  • Directed By: Stephen Herek
  • Written By: Tom Schulman
  • Release Date: October 9, 1998
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney (Caravan)
  • Cast: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum, Kelly Preston

Box Office Info:
Budget: $60 million Financed by: Disney
Domestic Box Office: $12,069,719 Overseas Box Office: $12,500,000

It was announced in April 1993 that Tom Schulman would write Holy Man for the Disney based Caravan Pictures and the project would be his feature directing debut.  It was initially designed as a vehicle for John Candy before his death in 1994.  In 1997, Stephen Herek became attached as director.  Herek was fresh off the box office hit 101 Dalmatians (1996) for Disney and the studio was so eager to keep him in the Disney fold that they added an additional movie to his already in place 3-picture deal.  Herek had also directed a string of hits for the mouse house — The Mighty Ducks (1992), The Three Musketeers (1993), Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) and after the commercial and critical failure of Holy Man, he never directed for Disney again.

Eddie Murphy also signed onto Holy Man in 1997 and was set to segue from the paycheck project Doctor Dolittle directly into the production of this doomed turkey.  The budget for Holy Man was $60 million, which was fully financed by Disney and it was dated for October 9, 1998.   Murphy was in the beginning of a career resurgence after the poorly received movies Beverly Hills Cop III and Vampire In Brooklyn.  After his newfound success in family entertainment starting with The Nutty Professor (1996) and then Doctor Dolittle just 4 months before Holy Man — it was quite unexpected that Holy Man turned into a box office trainwreck.

Disney did invest into a sizable marketing campaign and there was enough awareness from Murphy’s star wattage, but the trailer was dreadful and reviews were poor.  Holy Man was the only wide opener that weekend and it posted a disastrous $5,106,919 — placing #5 for the frame led by the holdover Antz.  Audiences gave the movie a toxic C+ cinemascore and it sank 52.7% to $2,415,756 in its second frame and then plummeted 62% to $928,160 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with an abysmal $12,069,719.

Overseas numbers were $12.5M.  The worldwide cume was $24.5M.  Disney would see returned about $13.4M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would barely dent the P&A expenses.


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