Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

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  • Directed By: John Madden
  • Written By: Shawn Slovo, Louis de Bernières
  • Release Date: August 17, 2001
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, Christian Bale

Box Office Info:
Budget: $57 million Financed by: Working Title; StudioCanal; Miramax
Domestic Box Office: $25,543,895 Overseas Box Office: $36,569,000

In early 1999, London based Working Title was bought out by Universal and the major studio gave Working Title the autonomy to greenlight up to five movies per year with budgets up to $25 million and higher budgets would have to be approved by Universal.  The first two projects put into development at Working Title under the ownership of Universal were Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Bridget Jones’ Diary.  

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin began development as a $25 million production to be helmed by Roger Michell, who directed the hit Notting Hill (1999) for Working Title.  During pre-production, Michell had a mild heart attack and John Madden stepped in as director, who was fresh off his Oscar winning box office hit Shakespeare In Love (1998).

Unfortunately for Universal/Working Title, Miramax had an option on Madden for his next two films and aggressively used that option to board Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and even demanded domestic distribution rights for Bridget Jones’ Diary.  Instead of replacing Madden with a director without Harvey Weinstein baggage, Universal agreed to those terms.  Under the arrangement, Universal would distribute Captain Corelli in the US, Miramax would take the UK and Australia, New Zealand, Japan and StudioCanal and Universal would share the rights in the rest of the international markets.  The budget for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was $57 million and it became Working Title’s most expensive film.  Working Title, StudioCanal and Miramax co-financed the picture.

What was once regarded as a prestige project, received awful reviews and was first dated for release in the UK in May.  Captain Corelli’s Mandolin underperformed with $12.9 million.  By the time it reached the states in late August, buzz had flatlined on the movie.  

Captain Corelli opened against Rat Race and American Outlaws and Universal booked it into 1,595 theaters, expecting the film to have strong legs from positive word of mouth.  It pulled in $7,209,345 — placing #6 for the weekend led by Universal’s holdover American Pie 2.  Captain Corelli’s Mandolin did not hold well in its second frame, declining 44.4% to $4,005,815 but it fell a modest 23.1% in its third weekend to $3,078,930.  The film closed its domestic run with a terrible $25,543,895.  Universal would see returned about $14 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not cover their P&A expenses.

The total offshore cume was a poor $36.5 million.

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