The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle

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  • Directed By: Des McAnuff
  • Written By: Kenneth Lonergan
  • Release Date: June 30, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Rene Russo, Jason Alexander, Robert De Niro

Box Office Info:
Budget: $76 million Financed by: Universal; Capella Intl.
Domestic Gross: $26,005,820 Overseas Gross: $9,129,000

After The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show creator Jay Ward’s death in 1989, his daughter Tiffany Ward inked a long standing licensing deal in May 1991 between Jay Ward Productions Inc. and Universal.  Eventually in the late 90s Universal announced plans for two movies from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  First up was the box office bomb Dudley Do-Right in 1999 ($9.9 million gross) and then this expensive live action/CGI hybrid that the studio planned as an event family picture.  The budget for The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle was $76 million and Universal co-financed with Capella Intl. — which received its capital from the German tax shelter fund KC Medien.  Universal and Capella planned on a long series of co-financing partnerships, but only The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle and the Stallone disaster Eye See You (D-Tox) materialized — and Universal refused to release Eye See You and sold it off to Blockbuster.

The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right were two additions to Universal’s failed big screen adaptations of old television programs in the 90s.  In 1996 there was Flipper ($20 million) and Sgt. Bilko ($30.3 million) and in 1997 there was Leave It To Beaver ($10.9 million) and McHale’s Navy ($4.5 million).

Universal dated The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle for the prime release date of June 30, since the 4th of July holiday would land on Tues.  The movie had the benefit of a major marketing push by the studio, built in name awareness from decades of merchandise, syndication on TV and Universal also partnered with numerous corporations for tie-ins — including Mars Inc. for their Milky Way, Snickers, 3 Musketeers and Twix bars and Online animation house Wild Brain created short content for the web.

Despite being written by acclaimed playwright Kenneth Lonergan (who would land a screenplay Oscar nom the same year for You Can Count On Me) and featuring a strong cast who have mostly admitted they joined for the payday — The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle was poorly reviewed.  It opened against two other tentpoles The Perfect Storm and The Patriot and would have direct competition with Chicken Run in its second weekend.

The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle was a complete dud, pulling in $6,814,270 — placing #5 for the frame led by The Perfect Storm and it came in way behind Chicken Run.  The movie declined 42.3% the following weekend to $3,933,970 and then fell 42% in its third session to $2,281,455.  The domestic run closed with a terrible $26,005,820.  Universal would see returned about $14.3 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover half of the P&A expenses.

The movie was mostly dumped overseas.  The majority of its awful $9.1 million offshore gross, came from the UK with $6.1 million.  Despite Capella receiving its financing from German sources, it was straight to video in the country.


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  1. Happy 20th to one of the few decent cartoon-to-live-action-movie adaptations. I know that’s not saying much, but they certainly tried a lot harder than most others.

  2. Meanwhile, their archenemies Fearless Leader, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale have lost power in Pottsylvania following the end of the Cold War. However, the three escape to a real-world Hollywood film studio, where they trick executive Minnie Mogul into signing a contract giving her rights to the show, transforming the villains from their two-dimensional cel-animated forms into live-action characters.

  3. Yeah this one wasn’t bad at all; one of favs as a kid. It’s still pretty damn funny in a self referential way now. Hope it gets Blu Ray one day from Shout or someone.

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