The Insider

  • Rate Movie
    [Total: 9 Average: 4.4]
  • Directed By: Michael Mann
  • Written By: Eric Roth, Michael Mann
  • Release Date: November 5, 1999
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney (Touchstone)
  • Cast: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer

Box Office Info:
Budget: $68 million Financed by: Disney; Spyglass Entertainment
Domestic Gross: $29,089,912 Overseas Gross: $31,200,000

The Insider was developed from a May 1996 Vanity Fair article called The Man Who Knew Too Much, which director and co-writer Michael Mann optioned after its publication.  Mann had landed a 5 year first-look deal with Disney in 1996 and The Insider was the first (and only) picture to materialize.  The budget for The Insider was $68 million, which the mouse house financed and to help mitigate some risk on the expensive project, they sold off a few overseas markets to Spyglass Entertainment for $20 million.

Disney positioned The Insider as an end of the year prestige film with major awards potential and dated it for November 5, 1999.  Buzz was strong and as the release date approached, a smear campaign was launched against The Insider, in hopes to squash any legitimacy about the film’s subject matter.  There were talks of a libel lawsuit from the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation and 60 Minutes creator and producer Don Hewitt went on a warpath against the picture.

The film chronicled possibly the lowest point in 60 Minutes’ history, where CBS executives overruled the journalists breaking the whistleblower story and The Insider opened old wounds for the program and was humiliating.  The Insider did take major liberties with the narrative, by compressing timelines and embellishing events for dramatic effect and the media ran stories pushed by the 60 Minutes PR team to discredit the movie.  The media also ran smear stories from the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation about Jeffrey Wigand, again, in hopes to mute awards talk and kill it’s commercial appeal.  Critics and most of the film industry were not swayed by the backlash and The Insider landed fantastic reviews.

It bowed against The Bone Collector and The Bachelor and pulled in a troubling $6,712,361 — placing #4 for the weekend led by The Bone Collector.  It dipped a modest 25.3% to $5,012,416 the following frame but it stalled at just $26M.

When the Academy Award nominations were announced on February 15, 2000 The Insider landed 7 nominations including Best Picture and Disney put the picture back into nationwide release to capitalize off of the accolades.  The Insider expanded to 651 locations and again was ignored by the public.  It pulled in $521,342 with a terrible $800 per screen average for the weekend.  The domestic run closed with only $29,089,912.  Disney would see returned about $15.9M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — far below the P&A expenses and the theatrical receipts would not touch the budget.

The film did not perform much better in the international market for Disney and Spyglass and it cumed 31.2M.

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