The Yards

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  • Directed By: James Gray
  • Written By: James Gray, Matt Reeves
  • Release Date: October 20, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: Miramax
  • Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, James Caan

Box Office Info:
Budget: $24 million Financed by: Miramax
Domestic Box Office: $889,352 Overseas Box Office: $1,400,000

“I learned my lesson after The Yards, which is a film I made in 2000. There is a director’s cut, which is my cut of that movie, but the cut that was released in theaters was not the ending that I wanted. And it got criticized for that. People said, “Oh the ending is so stupid, how could James Gray do that?” So I said to myself, I’m never gonna be in that situation again. If they’re gonna criticize it, it may as well be my own idiocy, not somebody else’s.”
–Director James Gray

the yards 2000 film
The Yards was first in development at Fox Searchlight, but after numerous executives were replaced, the project was dropped by the studio.  Miramax took on financing duties for The Yards and greenlit the movie with a $17.7 million budget and pre-sold the title to distributors, which saw about $15 million in sales.  The film was completed at the end of 1998 and then it began an almost two year torturous road to the big screen.

In May 1999, reshoots were commissioned and in return for the money for additional filming, Harvey Weinstein forced director James Gray to owe Miramax an additional movie (his contract already had him owe the mini-major one film already).  After the reshoots were completed, the film underwent multiple iterations after preview audiences found the picture slow and too dark.  With the reshoots and extended post-production tinkering, The Yards went $7 million over budget.

Cannes Film Festival President Gilles Jacob ended up seeing the picture and gave The Yards its first bit of good news and entered it into a coveted competition slot.  It premiered in May and critics were not pleasant toward the pic and The Yards went back to rotting on the Miramax shelf.  It was eventually dated for October 20 and Miramax dumped the movie.  There were no TV spots and no signs of any visible marketing and it was first booked into 8 theaters.  The Yards pulled in only $57,339 and it expanded the following weekend into 146 locations and grossed $314,505.  It never expanded further and the domestic run closed with just $889,352.

Overseas distributors did not do much with The Yards and the recorded offshore cume is a mere $1.4 million.  It went straight to video in Germany and Russia.  James Gray never helmed the two other features for Miramax, but The Weinstein Company picked up US rights for his picture The Immigrant (2013) — and tried to change the ending, but he had final cut and the Weinstein Co. basically dumped the film with a low key release.

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