Little Nicky

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  • Directed By: Steven Brill
  • Written By: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler, Steven Brill
  • Release Date: November 10, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: New Line
  • Cast: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel

Box Office Info:
Budget: $80 millionFinanced by: New Line
Domestic Box Office: $39,464,775Overseas Box Office: $18,827,520


After Adam Sandler’s two 1998 movies (The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy ) catapulted him to the A-list, he pitched his next project Little Nicky as part of a two picture deal and New Line, Sony and Disney were all interested in landing Sandler.  New Line offered Sandler $20 million against 20% of the gross revenues on each movie, plus $3 million to be split between him and his writers and producers.  Adam Sandler went with New Line, which backed his first big budget production.  The budget for Little Nicky was an expensive $80 million and New Line pre-sold overseas rights, which covered 60% of the budget.

Little Nicky was dated for November 10, 2000 and while in it was in production Sandler’s stock continued to rise after he bagged another box office smash in June 1999 Big Daddy.  However, Little Nicky was not tracking with blockbuster numbers.  Problems began during test screenings, where Sandler’s irritating performance and voice was so difficult to understand that he had to loop dialogue that was somewhat intelligible in many parts of the movie.  New Line did heavily back the movie with an expensive marketing campaign reported to be north of $35 million.  In addition, after New Line’s parent Time Warner announced their merger plans with AOL in early 2000, Little Nicky was one of the first movies to be cross promoted across all Warner and AOL platforms — including Moviefone (owned by AOL).  Time Warner was so bullish on the movie, that after it flopped, Time Warner’s quarter report announced that their earnings growth was slashed from 12% or 13% to 11% because of the box office failure of Little Nicky.

In the usual tradition of Sandler fare, Little Nicky was excoriated by critics.  It bowed against Men of Honor and Red Planet and would have direct competition with the hit Charlie’s Angels in its second weekend.  Little Nicky opened with a troubling $16,063,904 — placing #2 for the weekend led by Charlie’s Angels.  The pic sank 51.7% in its second session to $7,753,107 and Little Nicky flopped with a domestic total of $39,464,775.  About $21.6 million would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

Despite the movie’s poor box office performance, there were heated auctions for the US TV rights, which went to TBS/TNT for cable and FOX won two airings for broadcast TV, with the combined total reaching $8 million.

Little Nicky also posted dismal numbers during its overseas run for the numerous distributors that overpaid for this turkey.  The offshore total was $18,827,520.

On January 17 2001, New Line Cinema production president Michael De Luca was fired after a terrible 2000 for the mini-studio.  His firing was because of major money losers like Little Nicky and Thirteen Days and the ever rising costs of their problem picture Town & Country which had yet to be released.  Most people expected him to be fired back in 1998, when at an A-List pre-Oscar party at the William Morris Agency President Arnold Rifkin’s home, he took off his pants in front of the party and received oral sex and was thrown off the premises.  Lack of indiscretion aside, it was a few high profile flops that did him in.

New Line’s follow up projects with Sandler were only as co-financiers, with Sony handling distribution — Punch-Drunk Love and Mr. Deeds.

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