The Quiet American

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  • Directed By: Phillip Noyce
  • Written By: Christopher Hampton, Robert Schenkkan
  • Release Date: November 22, 2002
  • Domestic Distributor: Miramax
  • Cast: Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, Thi Hai Yen Do

Box Office Info:
Budget: $30 million Financed by: Intermedia; IMF tax fund
Domestic Box Office: $12,988,801 Overseas Box Office: $14,685,323

The Quiet American was a long in development project that had a rocky road to a theatrical release.  Director Phillip Noyce was developing the project at Paramount in 1997, but they balked at the film’s budget and dropped it.  German based Intermedia then took on financing duties and received some capital from the IMF German tax fund for the $30 million budget.  MGM had a first look deal for The Quiet American, but Miramax acquired US rights for $5.5 million and Intermedia protected itself from much of the budget through pre-sales.

The Quiet American was due in theaters in late 2001, but Miramax removed the film from its calendar after the September 11th attacks, fearing the pic would be scrutinized as anti-american.  A few test screenings confirmed that and the studio tried to shop the pic to other distributors, but there were no takers.  The movie, which was based off of Graham Greene’s 1955 classic novel, was also accused of being anti-American in the 50s during the height of McCarthyism hysteria and manufactured outrage toward a Graham Greene property nearly 50 years later, was at nearly farcical levels of triviality.  The Quiet American appeared to be completely buried.

Michael Caine helped rescue the film from being permanently shelved by pleading with Harvey Weinstein to screen the picture and Weinstein secured a slot for The Quiet American at the Toronto International Film Festival.  The pic’s potential theatrical release was going to be gauged by its reception and it received very strong reviews and much Oscar buzz for Caine’s performance.  Miramax quickly slated the movie for a limited release on November 22, 2002 for an Oscar qualifying run.

The Quiet American was booked into 6 theaters and took in $101,663 with a $16,943 per screen average.  The film remained in just a handful of theaters until Caine received an Oscar nomination and it expanded.  The widest the movie expanded to was just 396 theaters and for a film that was not given a strong commercial push by its distributor, The Quiet American managed to pull in $12,988,801.

Most overseas distributors didn’t do much in the way of pushing the film and it pulled in small numbers in every market and despite being financed by German coin, it grossed just $884,868 in the country.  The highest overseas cume was $2.9 million from Australia and its offshore total was $14.6 million.

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