- Directed By: Jeremiah S. Chechik
- Written By: Don MacPherson
- Release Date: August 14, 1998
- Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
- Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $60 million||Financed by: Warner Bros|
|Domestic Box Office: $23,384,939||Overseas Box Office: $25,200,000|
If you are looking for Marvel’s The Avengers, you have stumbled onto the wrong website. This catastrophe was based off of the UK cult series The Avengers (1961). The budget for The Avengers was $60 million and Warner Bros financed the picture which was envisioned as a major summer tentpole. Nicole Kidman was initially cast opposite Ralph Fiennes, but she was committed to WB’s production of Eyes Wide Shut and had to exit the role. The studio imposed the casting of Uma Thurman, who had just finished filming her humiliating turn as Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin for WB.
Director Jeremiah S. Chechik has said that the production of The Avengers went smooth but the movie was destroyed in post. He said: “The problem began as we got towards the end of the movie, with what happened at Warners. And I’m not going to blame anybody for the fact that it didn’t turn out the way it should, because, ultimately, I’m responsible. But what happened was that there were two executives, one wanted to make it, and one never wanted to make it. And over the course of shooting the movie, he had been promoted to co-head of production. And as we got close to the end, the executive whose film it was, who was really behind the making of it, was fired. And the person who was against the movie to begin with became the head of production. It began a cascade of disasters for me, because I knew then that the studio, by the time I got to the cutting room, politically it was not very supportive. The head of the studio really didn’t want it to succeed, I felt, because it wasn’t his film.” The unnamed executive that opposed the picture was Lorenzo Di Bonaventura.
After Chechik delivered his cut, WB test screened The Avengers in Phoenix, Arizona and the response was disastrous. Based off of that screening, the studio began to carve up the movie, until they removed over 20 minutes and rendered the film completely incoherent. WB had first penciled The Avengers in for a prime June release date, but moved it back to the slower end of summer frame on August 14, 1998. Warner Bros did not screen The Avengers for critics and the reviews that eventually posted were some of the worst write-ups given to a major studio release.
It bowed against How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Air Bud: Golden Receiver and Return to Paradise. The Avengers opened with a weak $10,305,957 — placing #3 for the weekend led by the holdover Saving Private Ryan. Audiences gave the movie a rare and hateful D cinemascore and it plummeted 64.4% the following frame to $3,664,587 and sank 59.6% to $1,482,237 in its third session. The domestic run closed with $23,384,939.
Recorded overseas numbers were only $25.2M. The worldwide cume was $48.5M and WB would see returned about $26.6M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — far below their P&A expenses and the theatrical receipts would not dent the hefty budget.