Mystery, Alaska

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    [Total: 6 Average: 3.3]
  • Directed By: Jay Roach
  • Written By: David E. Kelley, Sean O’Byrne
  • Release Date: October 1, 1999
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney
  • Cast: Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormack, Burt Reynolds

Box Office Info:
Budget: $28 millionFinanced by: Disney
Domestic Box Office: $8,891,623Overseas Box Office: N/A


David E. Kelley sold his Mystery, Alaska spec script to Disney for $2M in May 1997.  TV scribe Kelley also penned another 1999 feature Lake Placid and both movies were poorly received and he has not written for the big screen since.  The budget for Mystery, Alaska was $28 million and it was financed by Disney and was distributed through their Hollywood Pictures label.

When Disney greenlit the project, they announced that the movie would be a cross between Kelly’s series Picket Fences and the mouse house family hit The Mighty Ducks.  The marketing did reflect that, with trailers and TV spots that looked like an uplifting family movie for younger audiences, but it actually landed a R rating.  Mystery, Alaska was marketed straight into a commercial dead zone.  The picture also had zero star power, which was toplined by Russell Crowe and was released just months before his star making turn in Gladiator.  Unenthusiastic reviews also did the movie no favors.

Mystery, Alaska was dated for October 1, 1999 and bowed against Three Kings, Drive Me Crazy and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.  Buzz was non-existent and it was dead on arrival with $3,102,191 — placing #9 for the weekend led by the holdover Double Jeopardy.  Mystery, Alaska declined 41.9% to $1,801,833 in its second frame and sank 51.3% to $877,734 in its third session and then promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with a dreadful $8,891,623.  Disney would see returned about $4.8M after theaters take their percentage of the gross, leaving much of the P&A costs in the red and the theatrical receipts would not touch the budget.

Disney sent Mystery, Alaska straight to video in most overseas countries and no numbers were reported from the few markets it saw a fleeting theatrical release.

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