Paycheck

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  • Directed By: John Woo
  • Written By: Dean Georgaris
  • Release Date: December 25, 2003
  • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman

Box Office Info:
Budget: $60 millionFinanced by: Paramount; DreamWorks
Domestic Box Office: $53,790,451Overseas Box Office: $42,479,361

“After Paycheck, I couldn’t get better scripts.”
–Director John Woo


Philip K. Dick’s short story Paycheck was first optioned by Caravan in 1996, which was housed at Disney.  Caravan head Roger Birnbaum closed the company in 1998 and setup Spyglass at Disney and Paycheck was still in development, but nothing materialized.  The project eventually moved over to Paramount and director John Woo boarded the movie after negotiations with Brett Ratner and Kathryn Bigelow didn’t pan out.

Paramount then landed a seven picture co-financing slate with DreamWorks and PaycheckThe Stepford Wives were the first two put into production.  It was budgeted at $60 million.  DreamWorks also had the Ben Affleck stinker Surviving Christmas (2004) slated for an end of the year 2003 release, but once the studio boarded co-financing duties with Paramount on Paycheck, as part of an agreement they had to push Surviving Christmas into 2004.  Paycheck was then dated for a prime Christmas release, just four months after Affleck’s humiliating star turn in Gigli.

Paycheck bowed into a typically crowded and competitive holiday market against Cheaper by the Dozen, Cold Mountain, Peter Pan and holdover fare led by the second weekend of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  The film received mixed to poor reviews and placed #5 for the frame with a soft $13,462,374.  It declined a modest 26.9% over the New Years’ weekend with $9,837,313 and fell 47.7% in its third session to $5,146,378.  The domestic run closed with a mediocre $53,790,451.

Paycheck pulled in mostly soft numbers overseas and the offshore cume stalled at $42.4 million.  The worldwide total was $96.2 million, which would return about $52.9 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross.  This would not cover all of the P&A expenses or touch the budget.  Woo was set to direct Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six at Paramount following Paycheck, but the project never got off the ground.  Other projects like He-Man for FOX also never made it to a greenlight.  Woo eventually went back to his Hong Kong roots and helmed the big budget Red Cliff (2008).

In 2004, Affleck’s career was in the toilet.  No career can withstand the trauma caused by back to back releases of Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl and Surviving Christmas.  He took a short Hollywood leave and re emerged a few years later with better quality control at choosing projects.

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