For Love Of The Game
- Directed By: Sam Raimi
- Written By: Dana Stevens
- Release Date: September 17, 1999
- Domestic Distributor: Universal
- Cast: Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $50 million||Financed by: Universal|
|Domestic Box Office: $35,188,640||Overseas Box Office: $10,924,000|
Universal began developing For Love Of The Game in 1995 as a possible directing assignment for Sydney Pollack and a vehicle for Tom Cruise, but that never materialized. Kevin Costner signed on in December 1996. He had two Warner Bros commitments before the cameras could roll on For Love Of The Game — first up was leading man and directing duties for The Postman and after he was done damaging his career with that fiasco, he toplined the mawkish Message In A Bottle. The budget for For Love Of The Game was $50 million, which was fully financed by Universal and they were able to bring the production in at that cost by having Costner waive his $20M salary, in return for a larger percentage of the movie’s backend. Universal also gave Costner final cut privilege on the picture and director approval.
Fresh off of the acclaimed but poorly performing movie A Simple Plan, Sam Raimi was chosen to direct this schmaltz. Production went without incident, but in the late stages of editing, Costner went on a warpath against Universal. His final cut contract required that For Love Of The Game be rated PG-13 and no longer than 2 hours, 10 minutes. However the MPAA gave the movie a R rating because of a few brief scenes where the word ‘f-ck’ was used and also a random scene of full frontal nudity with Costner. Raimi agreed with the studio that this was not a restrictive rating type of movie and opted to cut out the offending ‘f-cks’ and gratuitous dick scene. Costner demanded that the R rated footage be put back in and then did so himself and Universal tested both cuts. Costner’s edit was also longer and because Raimi’s cut clocked in at a still very long 2 hours, 17 minutes — auds gave the higher test score to the director and Universal went with that version.
After Costner was pushed aside to get the movie finished in time for its September 17, 1999 release date — he began to publicly disparage the movie. He told the press: “For Universal, this movie has always been about the length and the rating. It’s never been about the content. You feel a studio would want to release the best version of the movie, not the one they think appeals to the biggest common denominator. I certainly don’t want to make movies with them…I’ll never forgive or forget what they’ve done.” This was the second fight he had with Universal after they sparred over the length and edit of Waterworld (1995). He also fought with Warner Bros over the punishing length of The Postman and refused to promote Message In A Bottle unless his input for the final edit was used. Costner cancelled most of his promotional tour for For Love Of The Game.
The movie landed terrible reviews and bowed against Blue Streak. It opened with $13,041,685 — placing #2 for the weekend led by Blue Streak. For Love Of The Game declined 50.7% to $6,435,770 in its second frame, killing its chances at breaking out. The run closed with $35,188,640 — a troubling number since the baseball theme would have little traction outside of the domestic market.
The overseas numbers were a small $10.9M. The worldwide gross was $46.1M and Universal would see returned about $25.3M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — far below their P&A expenses and the theatrical receipts would not dent the budget.