The Watcher

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  • Directed By: Joe Charbanic
  • Written By: David Elliot, Clay Ayers
  • Release Date: September 8, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Keanu Reeves

Box Office Info:
Budget: $33 million Financed by: Interlight
Domestic Gross: $28,946,615 Overseas Gross: $18,321,214

The budget for The Watcher was $33 million and it was financed by Interlight, which briefly made the leap to fund bigger budget movies without any sort of quality control and their two mid-range budgeted movies sent them into bankruptcy in 2001 — the first was Steven Seagal’s The Patriot (1999), a movie so lousy it was his first direct to video release and the second was the dreadful The Watcher.  Interlight’s financial model for The Watcher began with them pre-selling the rights in Germany, Italy and Spain and with those markets sold, they were able to raise additional funds from private equity investors and investments from Imperial Bank.  After filming was completed, a rough cut and promo reel was brought to the American Film Market and this was the largest sale when Universal picked up domestic rights and a few overseas markets for $5 million.  Once US distribution was set, major offshore markets were also picked up by numerous distributors.

Keanu Reeves’ involvement in this low grade rubbish was against his will and he refused to promote The WatcherReeves said, “I never found the script interesting, but a friend of mine forged my signature on the agreement. I couldn’t prove he did and I didn’t want to get sued, so I had no other choice but to do the film.”  Once Reeves was forced into this production (for union scale pay), his initial role, which was basically an extended cameo, was expanded also against his will.  After humiliating himself on screen in this junk, the coup de grâce for Keanu Reeves was landing a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.

The Watcher was dated for the usually slow post summer frame on September 8, where it bowed against Nurse Betty and The Way of the GunThe Watcher received awful reviews, but Universal was in a limited risk position, since they picked up this ‘crap with a star’ for $5 million and spent $20 million on P&A.  The Watcher won the slow weekend with $9,062,295.  Audiences gave the picture a toxic C- cinemascore.  The following weekend marked the start of the Summer Olympics and The Watcher won that frame with just $5,805,680, which was one of the lowest attended weekends in years.  The domestic run closed with $28,946,615.  Universal would see returned about $15.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross and they would be in good financial shape after ancillary sales — though little overages would flow back to Interlight.

The Watcher was a dud overseas and cumed $18.3 million across numerous distributors.  James Spader also toplined the troubled and expensive fiasco Supernova earlier in the year.

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