- Directed By: Sean Penn
- Written By: Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski
- Release Date: January 19, 2001
- Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
- Cast: Jack Nicholson, Benicio Del Toro, Aaron Eckhart
Box Office Info:
Budget: $37 million Financed by: Franchise Pictures; Intertainment Domestic Box Office: $19,733,089 Overseas Box Office: $9,686,202
The Pledge was financed by Franchise Pictures and the German based Intertainment. Intertainment sued Franchise in December 2000 for fraudulently inflating the budgets for their movies, so that Intertainment ends up shouldering more than the 47% of the production costs they contractually agreed to cover for a huge slate of Franchise pics. Franchise head Elie Samaha would make phony deferments called “approved overages” that were made up charges — for example, on this picture he approved $4.55 million in overages to go to Jack Nicholson and $500,000 to go to director Sean Penn. Other nonsensical deferments were $16,080 for “blueprints” and $671,028 for “total fringes.” With $18 million in fake overages that were pocketed, Franchise reported the budget to Intertainment as $55 million, but the actual price of the film was finally revealed to be $37 million.
Intertainment successfully sued Franchise and Samaha for $77 million and wiped out the scummy company in 2004. Before that judgement was handed down to Franchise, Morgan Creek also sued the company, as they had acquired domestic distribution rights in 1998 for eight Franchise films — “The Whole Nine Yards (Franchise’s only hit movie),” “Battlefield Earth,” “Art of War,” Get Carter,” “The Pledge,” “3000 Miles to Graceland,” Angel Eyes” and “Heist.” Along with a distribution fee, Morgan Creek would receive 15% of the film’s profits and they would have a right of first refusal on distributing the movies. Franchise never paid out any money for “The Whole Nine Yards” and they never offered Morgan Creek any other additional films to accept or pass on.
Warner Bros handled distribution on Franchise’s slate of films and dated The Pledge for a moderately wide release on January 19, opting not to give the movie an Oscar qualifying limited run in late 2000. The film received decent enough reviews, which is a rarity for Franchise, since most of their films were kicked to the gutter by both critics and audiences. The Pledge was the only new wide release opening over the slow January frame and it pulled in a soft $5,765,347 in 1,275 theaters. It placed outside the top 10 at #11 when holdover Save The Last Dance won the weekend. Audiences did not find much to like in The Pledge and gave the film a hateful D cinemascore. Warner Bros expanded the theater count to 1,410 locations the following weekend and it declined 36.2% to $3,678,312. The Pledge never expanded further and closed its domestic run with a poor $19,733,089. Warner Bros would see returned about $10.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not cover their P&A expenses.
The Pledge did mostly poor business overseas, grossing just $9.6 million across a handful of distributors.