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  • Directed By: Ted Demme
  • Written By: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone
  • Release Date: April 16, 1999
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac

Box Office Info:
Budget: $75 million Financed by: Universal
Domestic Gross: $63,886,029 Overseas Gross: $9,459,000

Eddie Murphy pitched the premise of Life to producer Brian Grazer on the set of The Nutty Professor (1996), who then began developing the project.  The Brian Grazer/Ron Howard shingle Imagine Entertainment produced the picture and the company was stationed at Universal, which financed the expensive comedy.  The budget for Life was $75 million. Eddie Murphy, Imagine and Universal teamed for the back to back productions of Life and Bowfinger.

Life marked the last R-rated Eddie Murphy vehicle, as the star segued into mostly godawful family comedies for the rest of his bankable career.  Murphy had a run of underperformers beginning with The Distinguished Gentleman (1992), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) and Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), before scoring a smash with the family comedy The Nutty Professor (1996).  He returned to his R-rated adult fare with poor returns on Metro (1997) and then pumped out two kids pics Doctor Dolittle (1998) and the trainwreck Holy Man (1998).

Universal dated Life for April 16, 1999 and Bowfinger was put on the calendar 4 months later.  Universal had been in a major slump in 1998 and bad box office continued for their first two major 1999 releases — Virus and another Imagine movie EDtv.  Universal was also very eager to keep Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s production company in-house after their 5 year contract was set to expire in 2000 and as a sign of good faith the studio combined Life and EDtv into expensive 60 second Super Bowl spots.

Life bowed against the semi-wide release of Goodbye Lover and received mixed reviews.  It pulled in $20,414,775 — which at the time of release was the biggest April opening on record.  After the better than anticipated bow, Life was expected to leg out and become a major hit, but it faded fast from theaters.  It fell 44.9% to $11,257,995 the following weekend and declined 42.4% to $6,481,175 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with $63,886,029 — a respectable number if the movie did not cost north of $100M to produce and market.

Universal did not do much in the way of backing the picture during its overseas release.  The studio dumped the movie straight to video in France and most smaller markets.  The reported offshore cume was just $9.4M.  The worldwide total was $73.3M and the studio would see returned about $40.3M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would likely cover most of the P&A expenses, but the theatrical receipts would not dent the big budget.

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