Thirteen Days

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  • Directed By: Roger Donaldson
  • Written By: David Self, Ernest R. May
  • Release Date: December 22, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: New Line
  • Cast: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp

Box Office Info:
Budget: $80 millionFinanced by: Beacon Pictures; New Line
Domestic Box Office: $34,592,089Overseas Box Office: $31,987,801


During its rocky development, Thirteen Days went through three studios and had more than eight A-list directors attached at various points.  The only fixed players to this project from the start of development were Beacon Pictures’ Chairman Armyan Bernstein and Kevin Costner.  Lawrence Kasdan was the first director tapped, but he bowed out to direct what would become the box office flop Mumford.  Beacon had a first-look deal at Universal, where the studio would shoulder 40% of the budget for domestic rights and Beacon owns international rights.  Phil Alden Robinson was brought on to direct and Universal was initially high on the project, but eventually wanted to slash the budget.  Universal bailed on the project in December 1998.  Armyan Bernstein then took Thirteen Days over to Sony.  Numerous studios were interested in the project, including New Line, but Bernstein had a good relationship with Sony after they handled the Beacon co-production Air Force One (1997).

Sony execs were also enthusiastic about the project and script, but things began to sour when Phil Alden Robinson left because of creative differences.  Sony then wanted Martin Campbell to direct, who had just helmed The Mask of Zorro for the studio, but he also left after creative differences.  Sony began to question the movie’s commercial appeal to younger auds and overseas markets and the project was soon dead at Sony.

After Sony dropped the pic, Universal once again had the right for first look dibs, but they passed.  Bernstein then took it over to New Line and production president Michael De Luca immediately greenlit the pic.  The budget for Thirteen Days was $80 million and New Line covered 40% and handled domestic distribution and Beacon covered 60% and owned international rights.  Beacon mitigated their risk by selling off international markets to distributors.  Francis Ford Coppola was expected to direct, but he too exited the picture.  Roger Donaldson, who had directed Costner in No Way Out (1987) was hired and Thirteen Days finally made it in before the cameras.

New Line first dated Thirteen Days for a wide release over the very crowded Christmas frame on December 22, but just a few weeks before it was set to open, the mini-major announced on December 5 that the movie would be pushed back to January 12 for a wide bow.  Thirteen Days would have a limited release on December 22 for Oscar consideration.  Costner’s career had hit a major cold streak and he had toplined three critical stinkers in a row — The Postman (1997), Message in a Bottle (1999) and For Love of the Game (1999) — but reviews for Thirteen Days were solid.  The movie was completely shut out by the awards circuit.

New Line booked Thirteen Days into 8 locations, where it was mostly ignored with a $46,668 weekend gross and a poor $5,833 per screen average.  For its wide expansion on January 12, it bowed against Save The Last Dance, Double Take, Antitrust and the wide expansion of Finding Forrester.  It struggled with $9,768,899 — placing #4 for the weekend led by Save the Last Dance.  Thirteen Days attracted an older audience and was expected to leg out over the upcoming weeks and the exit poll response was strong with an A- cinemascore.  It dipped 38.2% the following frame to $6,037,680 and continued to post modest weekly declines — but the domestic run closed with a very disappointing $34,592,089.  New Line would see returned about $18.9 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover their P&A expenses.

Overseas results were predictably soft, considering the subject matter was tailored for American auds and it cumed $31.9 million across numerous distributors.

Just a few days after Thirteen Days‘ disappointing wide release opening, on January 17 2001, New Line Cinema production president Michael De Luca was fired after a terrible 2000 for the mini-studio.  His firing was because of major money losers like Little Nicky and Thirteen Days and the ever rising costs of their problem picture Town & Country which had yet to be released.  Most people expected him to be fired back in 1998, when at an A-List pre-Oscar party at the William Morris Agency President Arnold Rifkin’s home, he took off his pants in front of the party and received oral sex and was thrown off the premises.  Lack of indiscretion aside, it was a few high profile flops that did him in.

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