Swept Away

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  • Directed By: Guy Ritchie
  • Written By: Guy Ritchie
  • Release Date: October 11, 2002
  • Domestic Distributor: Sony
  • Cast: Madonna, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce Greenwood

Box Office Info:
Budget: $10 million Financed by: SKA Films
Domestic Box Office: $598,645 Overseas Box Office: $437,875

We normally do not do write-ups on lower budgeted fare like this, but we’ll make a special exception for Swept Away, one of the worst movies ever made.  This infamous and much ridiculed remake of the 1974 picture of the same name was financed by Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn’s SKA Films for a modest $10 million.  SKA received its funds from private investors.  Sony picked up rights in most territories, which would likely cover most of the costs for SKA.  Swept Away was Madonna’s follow up performance to the awful flop The Next Best Thing (2000) and after its miserable reception, it was her last leading role.

After terrible test screenings and a torrent of pre-release negativity, Swept Away was rumored to be headed to the straight to video garbage dump, but Sony went ahead with a theatrical release through their Screen Gems division.  The studio first dated it for an October 25 release in 500 theaters, with an expansion planned, but they moved it to October 11 and dumped it in 196 theaters.  For an inexpensive movie landing a limited release, there was high audience awareness for Swept Away, but it was mostly from tabloid fodder about Guy Ritchie and Madonna that turned the film into a punchline.

Swept Away received scathing reviews and instantly cemented its place as a legendary stinker.  It was dead on arrival with $354,052 and a $1,806 per screen average that would ensure an expansion would be nixed.  Swept Away remained in 196 theaters and then sank 79% the following weekend to $74,252 and it was pulled out of release after its third week with just $598,645.

After the awful US box office returns, Sony sent the film straight to video in the UK.  Swept Away was dumped straight to video or television in most markets and grossed only $437,875 from a brief theatrical release in a few markets.

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