Virus

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    • Directed By: John Bruno
    • Written By: Chuck Pfarrer, Dennis Feldman
    • Release Date: January 15, 1999
    • Domestic Distributor: Universal
    • Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland

Box Office Info:
Budget: $70 millionFinanced by: Mutual Film Company; Tele München; BBC; Toho-Towa; UGC PH; Universal
Domestic Gross: $14,036,005Overseas Gross: $16,616,000

“That’s a piece of shit movie. It’s an unbelievably bad movie, just bad from the bottom.”
–Jamie Lee Curtis


The budget for Virus was a very pricey $70 million and it was developed at Mutual Film Company, which packaged this low-rent schlocker.   Mutual had inked an equity and distribution arrangement with four overseas companies (Germany’s Tele München, UK based BBC, Japan’s Toho-Towa and France’s UGC PH), for their slate of movies and each would invest and distribute in their countries.  Mutual had also setup a five picture co-financing and domestic distribution arrangement with Universal, but only four movies materialized and just one money maker The JackalVirus, Black Dog and Primary Colors were all box office flops.  In a quarter investor report from Universal’s parent Seagram Co., the dreadful box office performance of both Virus and EdTV mostly contributed to a huge $97M loss for Universal Studios’ film group.

At the November 1997 MIFED movie mart, Mutual brought Virus, Primary Colors, Black Dog and A Simple Plan and sold out almost every overseas market for each picture.  Each movie was a non-performer for distributors.

Virus completed production in mid-1997 and was first dated by Universal for a summer release on August 14, 1998.  Dimension then dated Halloween: H20 for the weekend prior, which not only courted the same audience, but toplined Jamie Lee Curtis and H20 had strong buzz.  Universal moved Virus to October and then delayed it to the January dumping ground on January 15, 1999.  Bad buzz had trailed the expensive Virus after the delay and knowing they have a stinker on their hands, the studio did not screen the movie for critics.  The reviews that eventually posted were bottom of the barrel.

Virus bowed against Varsity Blues and two other flops that also had their release dates delayed — At First Sight and In DreamsVirus was dead on arrival with $6,013,640 — placing #9 for the weekend led by Varsity Blues.  Audiences gave the pic a terrible C cinemascore and it fell 50% to $3,012,430 the following frame and then declined 52.7% to $1,425,970 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with only $14,036,005.  Universal would see returned about $7.7M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — far below the P&A expenses and their exposure to the budget.

Overseas numbers were as dreadful, with just $16.6M in theatrical receipts across many distributors.

After a string of box office losers, Paulie, A Simple Plan, Black Dog, Virus and Hard Rain, France’s UGC PH pulled out of the agreement with Mutual in 2000.

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