- Directed By: Jon Turteltaub
- Written By: Gerald Di Pego
- Release Date: June 4, 1999
- Domestic Distributor: Disney (Touchstone)
- Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $55 million||Financed by: Spyglass Entertainment|
|Domestic Gross: $34,105,207||Overseas Gross: $2,600,000|
Instinct was loosely “suggested” from the philosophical novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn — an unfilmable book where the narrative was imagined Socratic dialogue between a man and an ape. Turner Publishing owned the rights since the early 1990s and once Turner merged with Time Warner, Ishmael went into the Warner fold. The project began development in 1996 at Disney’s Touchstone, which leased the book rights from WB and it was retooled into the ridiculous Instinct.
Daniel Quinn wrote of the finished product: “Instinct, which bore no resemblance to the book, starred Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding, Jr., was released in June 1999, and bombed, pleasing neither critics nor movie-goers… It was not an independent production, it was a studio production, which means the producers had to deliver the goods that presumably work at the box office. The studio (Touchstone) wanted action, violence, and conflict—not philosophy—and that’s what they got. Those are the realities of Hollywood.”
The budget for Instinct was $55 million and when the movie was in the early stages of production at Disney, the newly formed Spyglass Entertainment brokered an uncommon deal with the mouse house. Spyglass completely took over all financial responsibilities for the movie and leased back domestic rights to Disney for a fixed price. Disney also paid for UK, Australia and Latin America rights. Spyglass took all remaining markets and sold off distribution to numerous distributors, which would limit their exposure to the budget.
Disney dated Instinct for June 4, 1999 and to drum up audience interest, the studio held nationwide sneak previews the weekend prior on 1,100 screens. Instinct received poor reviews and was the only wide release that weekend and it pulled in a soft $10,390,387 — placing #3 for the frame led by the holdover Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. There was a modest 34.4% second frame decline to $6,816,428 but it fell 52.7% to $3,224,513 in its third session. The domestic run closed with $34,105,207. Disney would see returned about $18.7M after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover P&A expenses.
Reported overseas numbers were only $2.6M across numerous distributors.