The Adventures Of Pluto Nash

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  • Directed By: Ron Underwood
  • Written By: Neil Cuthbert
  • Release Date: August 16, 2002
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Jay Mohr

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 million Financed by: Castle Rock; Village Roadshow
Domestic Box Office: $4,420,080 Overseas Box Office: $2,683,893

adventures of pluto nash flop
The Adventures Of Pluto Nash had been in development since the 1980s and after being rewritten to death, the film finally went into production and emerged as one of the most notorious box office and critical failures.  Pluto Nash was set up at Castle Rock (a subsidiary of Warner Bros) and Universal was set to co-finance the picture, but wisely dropped it and parent company Warner Bros took on distribution duties.  After striking gold with The Matrix, Village Roadshow decided to infuse a billion dollars into a slate of 40 Warner Bros productions and boarded the doomed Pluto Nash as co-financier.

Production began in 2000, with a budget that was estimated to be around $80 million, but after terrible test screenings, the picture was taken off the calendar in April 2001.    The budget for The Adventures Of Pluto Nash was $100 million after the project underwent costly reshoots that added at least $20M.  By the time the film was finished, Pluto Nash had a tidal wave of bad publicity behind it.  A few months before it finally landed a release date from WB, the studio closed Castle Rock’s physical production departments.  The company would no longer have any of its own public relations and 16 of Castle Rock’s 46 employees were fired and the rest absorbed into Warner Bros.  Factoring into Castle Rock’s reduced operations, were the box office losers Proof Of LifeMurder By NumbersHearts In AtlantisThe Majestic and also at this time Warner Bros was prepared to finally release Castle Rock’s massive folly The Adventures Of Pluto Nash.

As Pluto Nash was being moved around the calendar, Warner Bros pushed the already very delayed movie back to August 16, 2002 to keep it away from the Eddie Murphy vehicle Showtime — which Warners expected to do solid business but flopped.  Murphy declined to be involved in any publicity for this fiasco and even with the picture headed for disaster, WB did invest between $20M – $30M on P&A expenses.  The Adventures Of Pluto Nash was not screened for critics and the reviews that eventually posted were as bad as they come.

It bowed against Blue Crush and was an instant disaster, pulling in $2,182,900 in 2,320 theaters.  At the time of release, that was the worst opening on record for a movie playing in over 2,000 theaters.  It placed #10 for the weekend led by xXx in its second frame.  The few people that showed up gave the film a terrible C- cinemascore and Pluto Nash tumbled a huge 70.8% in its second session to $636,904 and promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with only $4,420,080.  WB would see returned about $2.4M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not even cover the cost of striking release prints for theaters.

Pluto Nash was dumped overseas where it grossed a mere $2,683,893 and went straight to video in most smaller markets.  Ron Underwood, the once promising director of Tremors and City Slickers saw his career derailed from this trainwreck and would end up directing a slew of crummy made for TV movies.  The only theatrical feature he landed a payday for post Pluto Nash was the dreadful Usher vehicle and flop In The Mix. 

Eddie Murphy also had Showtime and I Spy flop in 2002.  In an investor relations report, Village Roadshow saw their massive profits from The Matrix franchise cut in half from the awful numbers The Adventures Of Pluto Nash, DreamcatcherAnalyze That and Eight Legged Freaks pulled in.

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