The Human Stain

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  • Directed By: Robert Benton
  • Written By: Nicholas Meyer
  • Release Date: October 31, 2003
  • Domestic Distributor: Miramax
  • Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris

Box Office Info:
Budget: $30 million Financed by: Lakeshore Entertainment; Cinerenta
Domestic Box Office: $5,381,908 Overseas Box Office: $19,481,896

In June 2000, Lakeshore Entertainment acquired the theatrical rights to Philip Roth’s The Human Stain novel, which was published just one month earlier.  The budget for The Human Stain was $30 million and Lakeshore financed the picture and received some capital from the German based Cinerenta, which tapped into a now defunct German tax shelter fund.  Lakeshore mitigated their risk on the project by handling overseas sales to distributors.

Before production began, Miramax signed on as US distributor and this prestige pic would be apart of the mini-major’s end of the year award hopeful slate in 2003.  The Human Stain was first dated for a limited September 26 release, with additional markets planned over the course of a month — but Miramax pushed the film back until the quiet Halloween frame on October 31 with an 800 theater release scheduled.  Miramax kept the Halloween date, but then decided to platform the release, first opening it in 160 theaters.

Two months before The Human Stain was set to open, it premiered at the Venice Film Festival.  Buzz was strong and Miramax expected solid commercial potential from the picture, but it landed mixed reviews.  It was heavily criticized for the bizarre casting choice of Anthony Hopkins, which if you know the spoiler for that character, demolishes suspension of disbelief.  Once the award heat evaporated, the film proved to be a hard sell.

The Human Stain opened with $1,034,195 with a $6,463 per screen average for its first frame.  It expanded to 187 theaters the following weekend with diminishing returns at $762,379 and continued to struggle while expanding and the film never played in more than 388 cinemas.  The domestic run stalled at just $5,381,908.

Miramax’s parent company Disney dumped the movie in the UK in 94 theaters to all of $134,053 and Italy posted the strongest offshore numbers at $6 million.  The overseas cume was $19,481,896 across numerous distributors.

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