The Patriot

  • the patriot Steven Seagal
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  • Directed By: Dean Semler
  • Written By: M. Sussman, John Kingswell
  • Release Date: February 6, 1999
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney (video release) | HBO (cable premiere)
  • Cast: Steven Seagal, Gailard Sartain, L.Q. Jones

Box Office Info:
Budget: $35 million Financed by: Interlight
Domestic Gross: $0 Overseas Gross: N/A

The Patriot was financed for $35 million by Interlight, which briefly made the leap to fund bigger budget movies without any sort of quality control and their two mid-range budgeted movies sent them into bankruptcy in 2001 — the first was this Steven Seagal garbage The Patriot, a movie so lousy it was his first direct to video release and the second was the dreadful The Watcher (2000).  In 2001, Ilshin Capital Investments sued Interlight for not paying back a loan that was invested into the production of The Patriot, which sent the company straight into Chapter 11.  Ilshin Capital Investments took control of the property and then sued Disney, which handled the domestic video release of the movie.  Disney was not making any money off of this film and prematurely stopped distributing the title around 2005 and Ilshin sued for damages and in 2007 was awarded $6.4M.

Interlight brought this doomed project to the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for pre-sales, touting its $35M pricetag to distributors and then hired Oscar winning cinematographer Dean Semler (Dances with Wolves) to direct The Patriot as his second feature.  He had just completed his first directing assignment Firestorm (1998), before immediately going off to helm this wretched Steven Seagal vehicle that ended his directing career — he successfully returned to cinematography.

Once production was completed Interlight began to screen footage for domestic distributors.  There was mild interest in The Patriot, but no deal was reached.  After the film was completely finished, it screened for buyers who all passed.  The best deal Interlight could get on this stinker was a cable premiere on HBO set for February 6, 1999.  Back in the 90’s, the maximum HBO would pay for a healthy budgeted movie without a theatrical release was $1.75M and it has not been reported what they paid for The Patriot.

The Patriot also premiered on TV in the UK and was given a miniscule release in a few overseas markets, where no box office numbers have been reported.  Steven Seagal’s offscreen rival Jean-Claude Van Damme also had a high profile and $35M budgeted movie Legionnaire, also get dumped straight to video just 3 days after The Patriot premiered on TV.

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