Reindeer Games

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  • Directed By: John Frankenheimer
  • Written By: Ehren Kruger
  • Release Date: February 25, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: Miramax (Dimension)
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Sinise

Box Office Info:
Budget: $42 million Financed by: Miramax (Dimension)
Domestic Box Office: $23,368,995 Overseas Box Office: $8,799,975

“Reindeer Games.  That was a bad, bad, bad movie.  But even though the movie might suck, I got to work with John Frankenheimer. I wasn’t lying to myself – that’s why I did it. I mean, he directed The Manchurian Candidate, which is like the movie of all movies.”
Charlize Theron

This completely ridiculous project began when Miramax purchased the Reindeer Games screenplay from Ehren Kruger for a high six-figure amount with two additional script commitments for a $2.5 million payday for the writer.  Veteran director John Frankenheimer signed onto Reindeer Games after Ronin (1998) lifted his career out of the gutter, which reached its nadir in 1996 when he took over directing duties on The Island of Dr. Moreau.  The budget for Reindeer Games was $42 million and it was one of the more expensive projects for Miramax’s genre division Dimension, which greenlit this picture as a tentpole for the studio.

After viewing an early cut of Reindeer Games, the Weinsteins offered John Frankenheimer a four-picture deal with Miramax, which never materialized since this was sadly his last film before his death in 2002.  Test screenings resulted in a muted response from auds, which were unhappy with some of the movie’s violence and tone and Reindeer Games was sent back for reshoots.  The reshoots forced the original December 10, 1999 release date to be moved back.  Dimension also planned a Christmas release, but the movie was not ready in time and it was delayed to February 25, 2000 — which was one week after Boiler Room, which Ben Affleck also had a supporting role.

Reindeer Games opened against Wonder Boys and received poor reviews.  It pulled in a very soft $8,128,356 — placing #3 for the slow weekend led by the holdover The Whole Nine Yards.  Audiences gave Reindeer Games a terrible C- cinemascore, but it declined a semi-respectable 41.5% to $4,757,095 in its second weekend and lost 39.9% of its audience in its third frame to $2,856,753.  The domestic run ended with $23,368,995.  About $12.8 million would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross, far less than the P&A expenses or any of the budget.

Miramax/Dimension offset some of their risk on the picture by selling off most overseas rights, where Reindeer Games was a total non-performer with $8.7 million.

Miramax’s parent company Disney, sold the cable rights to TBS and TNT for $3 million.

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