City By The Sea

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  • Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones
  • Written By: Mike McAlary, Ken Hixon
  • Release Date: September 6, 2002
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Robert De Niro, Frances McDormand, James Franco

Box Office Info:
Budget: $39 millionFinanced by: Franchise Pictures; Epsilon
Domestic Box Office: $22,448,879Overseas Box Office: $6,965,087


City By The Sea was financed by Franchise Pictures and Epsilon for what was originally reported by Franchise as a $59 million production.  After investigations turned up fraud by Franchise, which made a habit of inflating their budgets so that their financing partners end up shouldering most of the costs, the actual budget for City By The Sea was revealed as $39 million.

Intertainment was originally going to cover nearly half of the budget, but refused to hand over any capital after Franchise ripped them off for years and began litigation against the company.  Intertainment was given expense reports by Franchise claiming the actors cost $18.5 million, but documents showed the amount to be $13.7 million.  Sets were listed as $1.2 million in Franchise’s budget, but the actual costs turned out to be $864,018.  And so on.  Intertainment successfully sued Franchise and wiped out the company in 2004.

Warner Bros handled US distribution as per their output deal with Franchise and dated the picture for the slow September 6 frame.  City By The Sea was supposed to start off the fall as more serious fare for adult audiences, but it received weak reviews.  It bowed against SwimFan and opened to a very modest $8,935,426 — placing #3 for the slow weekend led by SwimFan.  Warner Bros distribution head Dan Fellman was quoted by Variety saying the film cost $10 million: “I’m happy for (Franchise chief) Elie (Samaha).  The film ultimately will make a profit.”  Uh huh.  Even the Warner PR department can’t keep up with the bullshit numbers coming out of Franchise.  Dan Fellman also said the very same thing just one week earlier, when the Franchise flop Fear Dot Com tanked.  The film disappeared from theaters with $22,448,879.  Warner Bros would see returned about $12.3 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not cover their P&A costs.

City By The Sea was dumped by most overseas distributors, where it pulled in just $6,965,087 and went straight to video in Germany where Franchise received most of their capital and ripped off their German partners.  Robert De Niro had a terrible 2002 at the box office, beginning with Showtime in March, City By The Sea in September and Analyze That in December.

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