The Legend Of Bagger Vance

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  • Directed By: Robert Redford
  • Written By: Steven Pressfield, Jeremy Leven
  • Release Date: November 3, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: DreamWorks
  • Cast: Will Smith, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron

Box Office Info:
Budget: $80 million Financed by: DreamWorks; FOX
Domestic Box Office: $30,919,168 Overseas Box Office: $8,540,259

In mid 1999, DreamWorks boarded The Legend Of Bagger Vance and would handle domestic distribution.  Also in 1999, Robert Redford’s production company Wildwood Enterprises landed a financing deal with the European conglomerate Eureka, which agreed to invest $23 million into the $70 million project for rights in Europe.  Eureka agreed to co-finance on the condition that Robert Redford both direct and star in the movie, but eventually a younger cast was chosen with Matt Damon taking over Redford’s role.  Following the cast change, Eureka pulled out of the project.  DreamWorks then partnered with FOX to split the costs and the budget for The Legend Of Bagger Vance had risen to $80 million from the addition of both Damon and Will Smith.  DreamWorks would continue to own US rights and FOX would take international rights.  Neither studio would share revenue.

DreamWorks positioned The Legend Of Bagger Vance as an end of the year awards hopeful and dated it for November 3.  With an A list cast and veteran talent behind the camera, any buzz the movie had was deflated from mixed to poor reviews.  And for a movie that tried to avoid all controversy by glossing over racism in the 1930s American south, the movie found itself in controversy over that very omission — as well as Will Smith’s magical caddy character, which only existed to give meaning to a white man’s life.

The Legend Of Bagger Vance bowed against Charlie’s Angels and posted a mediocre $11,516,712 — placing #3 for the weekend led by Charlie’s Angels.  The film was expected to leg out at the box office, but it declined 45.2% the following frame to $6,315,993 and then sank 55.4% to $2,817,983 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with only $30,919,168.  DreamWorks would see returned about $16.9 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover P&A expenses or any of their half of the budget.

The Legend Of Bagger Vance was a total dud for FOX, which only saw $8,540,259 in overseas receipts.

Since becoming a global star, The Legend Of Bagger Vance was Will Smith’s first awards bait dramatic role after a series of mega-budgeted popcorn fare — and the actor was just coming off the reviled Wild Wild West.  He received an Oscar nom the following year for Ali, which was a box office disaster.  At the end of December Matt Damon had the long delayed and troubled All The Pretty Horses flop and he also lent his voice to the animated June fiasco Titan A.E. 

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