Anna and the King

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  • Directed By: Andy Tennant
  • Written By: Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes
  • Release Date: December 17, 1999
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat, Bai Ling

Box Office Info:
Budget: $70 millionFinanced by: FOX
Domestic Box Office: $39,263,420Overseas Box Office: $74,733,517

anna and the king 1999
When FOX announced their lavish version of Anna and the King, they attempted to shoot the picture in Thailand, but the Thai government was not very receptive to the project.  They felt the 1956 film version of this material The King and I was offensive and FOX went through a few drafts of the screenplay to ease their fears.  After 6 months of dealing with Thai censors, they rejected the movie from filming in the country.

FOX had budgeted $23M for the Thai shoot (that did not include actor salaries) and the cost of the project soared when it was moved to Malaysia.  The production built the largest set since Cleopatra, which was a seven-acre re-creation of Thai royal palaces, there were dozens of costumed elephants, thousands of extras and horses.  The budget for Anna and the King was $70 million and FOX fully financed.  $15M of the expenses went to Jodie Foster’s salary.

FOX first dated Anna and the King for the Thanksgiving slot on November 24 but moved it out of the crowded frame to December 17.  Commercial expectations were very high for the movie and it was expected to play strong throughout the holiday season.  To spread word of mouth FOX ran nationwide sneak previews of the film on November 27 and then had a second round of sneaks the weekend before its release.

It bowed against Stuart Little and Bicentennial Man.  Reviews were mixed and Anna opened way below expectations with a terrible $5,223,416 — placing #6 for the weekend led by Stuart Little.  It dipped just 14.5% to $4,468,421 over the Christmas frame and then had a 20% uptic in business over the New Year’s session to $5,362,413.  Even with the strong weekly holds, the domestic run closed with a poor $39,263,420.

Anna and the King pulled in solid numbers overseas with $74.7M in receipts, but it was not enough to offset the weak domestic performance.  The worldwide gross was $113.9M and FOX would see returned about $62M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would likely cover the global P&A expenses, but the theatrical revenue would not dent the sizable budget.

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