Looney Tunes: Back In Action

  • LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION box office
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    [Total: 93 Average: 3.4]
  • Directed By: Joe Dante
  • Written By: Larry Doyle
  • Release Date: November 14, 2003
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin

Box Office Info:
Budget: $80 millionFinanced by: Warner Bros
Domestic Box Office: $20,991,364Overseas Box Office: $47,523,480


Looney Tunes: Back In Action was a sad commercial fiasco, that saw the end of veteran director Joe Dante’s studio helming days, the cancellation of further Looney Tunes features and shorts and the complete shutdown of Warner Bros Animation — which was mostly disbanded already after the flops Quest for Camelot (1998), The Iron Giant (1999) and Osmosis Jones (2001).  Production was apparently a mess, with script arguments between the studio and the filmmakers, 25(!) writers contributing throughout the production and the whole process micromanaged to death.  What was left was an $80 million dud.  When asked if he could even work in the current studio system, Joe Dante responded: “My last studio film was “Looney Tunes,” and I had a rather unpleasant time with that. And I haven’t been asked back, let’s put it that way.

This was to kickstart a new Looney Tunes franchise and the Warner Bros marketing machine put their full weight behind the picture.  Warner Bros Worldwide Consumer Products set up cross promotions with Action Performance and Chevrolet for a Looney Tunes-themed NASCAR tie-in; toy company Mattel created a new line of toys; there was a video game tie-in; promotions at Sprint and Wendy’s; and other corporate crossovers were from Rubies, Hallmark, Nanco, Scholastic, Mead, Dalmatian, In-Zone Products and Six Flags.  All that branding effort cost untold tens of millions.

Despite Looney Tunes: Back In Action having a rather poor reputation, the film did receive kind reviews from critics, but the family marketplace was crowded when it opened on November 14 — Elf opened the week prior and Brother Bear was still going strong.  Other openers that weekend were Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and the documentary Tupac: ResurrectionLooney Tunes: Back In Action opened at #5 with a very disappointing $9,317,371 when Elf led the weekend.  The film had further competition the following weekend, when The Cat In The Hat opened and Looney Tunes sank 54.8% to $4,215,236 and bombed out of release with $20,991,364.

Looney Tunes: Back In Action pulled in mostly soft numbers overseas, grossing $47,523,480.  The worldwide total was $68.5 million, leaving Warner Bros with about $37.6 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not cover even half of the P&A costs and the budget is all red.  Looney Tunes: Back In Action was Warner Bros’ biggest box office flop in 2003.

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  1. Its biggest overseas grosses were the UK with $9.6 million, France with $5.3 million, Mexico with $4.2 million, Italy with $3.1 million, and Australia with $2.9 million.

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