Universal Soldier: The Return

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    [Total: 12 Average: 2.7]
  • Directed By: Mic Rodgers
  • Written By: William Malone, John Fasano
  • Release Date: August 20, 1999
  • Domestic Distributor: Sony
  • Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Kiana Tom

Box Office Info:
Budget: $22 million Financed by: Sony
Domestic Box Office: $10,667,893 Overseas Box Office: $2,700,000

The Universal Soldier property was owned by Carolco Pictures and the company was beset with major financial problems in 1994.  In order to prevent insolvency, Carolco began to sell off movies in their development pipeline and either sell or lease the rights to some of their more lucrative properties.  In February 1995, Carolco sold the Universal Soldier rights for a TV series to Toronto based Skyvision Entertainment for a six-figure sum.  Contrary to the information circulating on wikipedia, the rights sold to Skyvision were only for a TV series.

After Carolco went into bankruptcy in late ’95, their library was sold off and the rights to potential theatrical franchises like, Total Recall, Rambo and Universal Soldier were held for auction.  Sony acquired the rights and began development on Universal Soldier: The Return.  Jean-Claude Van Damme signed on in October 1998 and his drawing power had been fading after a string of flops starting in 1995.  By the time this belated sequel was in theaters, Van Damme had his previous movie Legionnaire get dumped straight to video just 6 months earlier.  Along with having a star that could no longer draw flies, the Universal Soldier brand was also hurt from its association with two low budget schlock sequels made for TV from Skyvision in ’98 — Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business.

The budget for Universal Soldier: The Return was $22 million and Sony financed and dated it for the slow end of summer dumping ground on August 20, 1999.   It bowed against other disposable studio fare Mickey Blue Eyes and Teaching Mrs. Tingle.  Sony did not screen this stinker for critics.  Universal Soldier: The Return was dead on arrival with $4,605,167 — placing #7 for the weekend led by the holdover The Sixth Sense.  Audiences gave the movie a very poor C- cinemascore and it tumbled 64.1% to $1,654,571 in its second frame.  The domestic run closed with just $10,667,893.

Turner owned broadcasters TBS and TNT licensed the TV rights for a larger than expected $2 million.  This marked the last studio vehicle for Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Reported overseas numbers are $2.7 million.

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