Formula 51

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  • Directed By: Ronny Yu
  • Written By: Stel Pavlou
  • Release Date: October 18, 2002
  • Domestic Distributor: Sony (Screen Gems)
  • Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer

Box Office Info:
Budget: $28 millionFinanced by: Alliance Atlantis; UK Film Consortium
Domestic Box Office: $5,204,007Overseas Box Office: $9,235,691


Formula 51 (The 51st State in the UK and some other markets) was a project Samuel L. Jackson tried to get off the ground since 1997 and after attempts to set it up at a studio, it landed at Alliance Atlantis.  Formula 51 was budgeted at $28 million and the majority of financing came from Alliance and the UK Film Consortium contributed £2,000,000 in lottery coin.  Alliance Atlantis also sold the picture to international distributors, which would help limit their exposure to the budget.

Atlantis’ UK subsidiary Momentum Pictures, distributed in the UK and Sony’s Screen Gems picked up US rights after the movie was completed.  The film was first released in the UK in December 2001 and was savaged by critics and grossed a poor £3,682,190.

Atrocious reviews followed Formula 51 for its US bow, which was first scheduled to open on September 6, 2002 and then it was moved to August 30 and then October 25 and finally October 18.  Screen Gems booked it into 1,857 theaters against The Ring and Abandon and buzz was non-existent.  It placed outside the top 10 at #12 with a dead on arrival $2,817,719.  Audiences gave Formula 51 a toxic C- cinemascore and it tumbled 65.8% the following weekend to $964,019 and promptly lost most of its theater count.  It closed its run after only four weeks with a terrible $5,204,007.  Sony would see back about $2.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, way below their P&A expenses and unreported acquisition cost.

Overseas, Formula 51 was a dud, grossing $9,235,691 across many distributors and it was dumped straight to video in Italy, Germany and a few smaller markets.

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