Mercury Rising

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    [Total: 14 Average: 2.8]
  • Directed By: Harold Becker
  • Written By: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal
  • Release Date: April 3, 1998
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Miko Hughes

Box Office Info:
Budget: $60 millionFinanced by: Universal
Domestic Gross: $32,935,289Overseas Gross: $60,172,000

mercury rising 1998 box office
Mercury Rising began to actively move forward in late 1996, after Ryne Douglas Pearson sold the rights to his novel Simple Simon to Universal.  This was considered a very hot project and landed interest from Nicolas Cage, Bruce Willis and George Clooney for the lead.  Bruce Willis inked the deal for the role in January 1997 and landed a $20 million payday.  The budget for Mercury Rising was $60 million and it was fully financed by Universal.   This once red hot project has otherwise only been remembered as that other movie Bruce Willis did with a kid just before The Sixth Sense.

The picture went into production under the title Simple Simon and Universal went through five variations, including Mercury Falling before settling on Mercury Rising — a title so generic, that it could be slapped on literally any movie regardless of genre.  The studio had high hopes for this picture and was bullish on the marketing.  Universal also dished out $1.3 million for a 30 second Super Bowl commercial, only to be dwarfed by a 60 second ad for the Bruce Willis starrer Armageddon, which aired right before the Mercury Rising ad.

Mercury Rising was dated for April 3, 1998 and bowed against Lost In Space.  If there was anything of remote originality in the screenplay that attracted an A-list cast and a large budget, the final product turned out to be as formulaic as its title and reviews were awful.  It came in way below expectations with $10,104,715 — placing #3 for the weekend led by Lost In Space.  Mercury Rising would be the second very pricey 1998 box office casualty for Universal, which saw poor numbers from Primary Colors just two weeks earlier.  There was a 41.8% decline to $7,005,780 the following weekend and the domestic run bombed with $32,935,289.

The back to back dismal box office performances of Mercury Rising and Primary Colors, led to the forced resignation of four executives — Marc Platt, president of production; marketing chiefs Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones; corporate operations VP Howard Weitzman.

Mercury Rising fared better overseas, with a $60.1M cume, but it was not enough to lift the poor domestic gross out of the red.  The worldwide total was $93.1M and the studio would see returned about $51.2M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would leave part of the global P&A expenses in the red and the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.

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