Sweet November

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  • Directed By: Pat O’Connor
  • Written By: Kurt Voelker
  • Release Date: February 16, 2001
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs

Box Office Info:
Budget: $40 millionFinanced by: Bel-Air Entertainment
Domestic Box Office: $25,288,103Overseas Box Office: $40,466,125

“It’s not a film that I’m delighted about.”
–Director Pat O’Connor

sweet november 2001
Sweet November was financed by Steven Reuther’s Bel-Air Entertainment for $40 million.  Bel-Air was formed in March 1998 as a 5-year equity partnership between Warner Bros and the French conglomerate Canal Plus and WB retained worldwide rights for the films, except for France, Spain and Germany, which went to Canal.  After a string of box office disappointments from Bel-Air: “Pay It Forward,” “Sweet November,” “Proof of Life” and Rock Star, Canal Plus pulled out of the arrangement in 2002 and by that point Bel-air had no films in their pipeline — except the delayed Collateral Damage waiting for a release and the perpetually shelved Chain Of Fools, which was dumped straight to video in 2005.

Keanu Reeves boarded this stinker with a $15 million salary against 15% of the gross and this project re-teamed Reeves and Charlize Theron after The Devil’s Advocate (1997).  Sweet November was dated for February 16, opening against Down To Earth and Recess: School’s Out.  The movie received miserable reviews and WB booked it into 2,268 theaters, where it pulled in a soft $9,733,954 — placing #4 for the weekend led by Hannibal in its second frame.  Sweet November did not have strong legs to break out and declined 47.2% to $5,136,388 in its second weekend and sank 55.7% in its third session to $2,275,493.  The film was out of theaters with $25,288,103.

Sweet November did mostly poor business in its offshore release, with Japan being the strongest market.  Warner Bros retooled the marketing in Japan to pull in female auds by focusing on the Charlize Theron character’s illness and dying, which was downplayed in every other market.  The sad, weepy marketing was a success and the Japan gross was $11 million, bringing the overseas total to $40.4 million.  The worldwide cume was $65.7M and WB would see returned about $36.1M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not cover global P&A expenses or any of the budget.

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