Pinocchio

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  • Directed By: Roberto Benigni
  • Written By: Roberto Benigni, Vincenzo Cerami
  • Release Date: December 25, 2002
  • Domestic Distributor: Miramax
  • Cast: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Mino Bellei

Box Office Info:
Budget: $45 millionFinanced by: Melampo Cinematografica
Domestic Gross: $3,684,305Overseas Gross: $37,638,866

“Of course I’m sorry that some people didn’t like the film.  But given that not everyone likes Beethoven’s Ninth, there can also be doubts about Benigni’s ‘Pinocchio,’ no?”
–Roberto Benigni’s Ego


Roberto Benigni’s disastrous update of Pinocchio, with the ill fated decision to put himself in the lead, despite being decades too old, was Italy’s most expensive film at $45 million.  Benigni’s production outfit Melampo Cinematografica bankrolled the production, with $21 million covered from Miramax, who acquired worldwide rights without reading the script — and limited their exposure to their investment by pre-selling rights to other distributors.

The Cecchi Gori Group was set to distribute the film in Italy, but Vittorio Cecchi Gori was arrested for bankruptcy fraud and Pinocchio found its way to their rival Medusa.  Medusa spent $2 million on an advertising blitz in Italy and Pinocchio shattered box office records and grossed $25.6 million.  Outside of Italy the film was a total washout.

Miramax made the decision to dub the movie, which turned a bad film even worse and scheduled Pinocchio as an event holiday film to open on Christmas.  A McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in with Pinocchio figures was launched and despite generally poor reviews in Italy, Pinocchio was picked as its entry for a foreign language film nomination for the Academy Awards — of course it wasn’t nominated.  Knowing it would receive awful reviews, Miramax did not screen the film for critics and when reviews finally surfaced, they were as bad as they come.

Pinocchio was booked into 1,195 theaters where it was dead on arrival with $1,151,463 with a $963 per screen average and the few people that showed up gave the film a hateful D+ cinemascore.  It placed #19 for the weekend led by The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in its second frame.  Miramax saw a better result from Chicago which they also opened in just 77 theaters with a stellar $2,074,929.  Pinocchio declined 52.6% the following weekend to $545,844 and promptly lost most of its theater count.  It was pulled out of release after four weeks with just $3,684,305.

Overseas, Pinocchio took in just $12 million across numerous distributors, outside of Italy’s gross and the overseas total was $37,638,866.

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