The Truth About Charlie

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  • Directed By: Jonathan Demme
  • Written By: Jonathan Demme, Steve Schmidt, Peter Stone, Jessica Bendinger
  • Release Date: October 25, 2002
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, Tim Robbins

Box Office Info:
Budget: $60 million Financed by: Universal; Mediastream
Domestic Box Office: $5,350,371 Overseas Box Office: $1,742,913

Fresh off of his box office disaster Beloved, Jonathan Demme was attached to direct both The Truth About Charlie and the Coen brothers scripted Intolerable Cruelty at Universal in 1999.  Demme first tried to land Will Smith for The Truth About Charlie, but he was busy filming Ali, so the director opted to move forward with Intolerable Cruelty.  That project hit a development bump when cast scheduling difficulties would have overlapped with a potential SAG strike set for June 30, 2001 and Demme then decided to helm this misbegotten remake of Charade (1963) — with the ill fated decision to cast Mark Wahlberg in the lead role, who (especially at this point in his career) sported none of Cary Grant’s charm or his bankability.

The budget for The Truth About Charlie was just under $60 million and it was financed by Universal with additional coin provided by the German tax shelter fund Mediastream.   Universal dated the picture for October 25, 2002 and buzz was non-existent.  Reviews were mixed, but Universal decided to scale back the release and booked Charlie into only 753 theaters.

It bowed against Jackass: The Movie and Ghost Ship and opened with a disastrous $2,270,290 — placing #14 for the weekend led by Jackass.  Audiences gave The Truth About Charlie a rare and hateful D cinemascore and the opening numbers nixed a theater expansion.  It declined 44.6% to $1,257,085 in its second frame and was pulled from release after only five weeks with $5,350,371.

Universal dumped the picture overseas and the fleeting theatrical run it had, pulled in only $1,742,913.  Despite being partially financed from German sources, it was sent straight to video in Germany and most smaller markets.  The worldwide total on the expensive film was only $7 million and Universal would see back about $3.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which barely dented their P&A costs and left this as one of the biggest failures of 2002.  Jonathan Demme followed this remake with another expensive redo of a classic The Manchurian Candidate.

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