The Order

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  • Directed By: Brian Helgeland
  • Written By: Brian Helgeland
  • Release Date: September 5, 2003
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Benno Fürmann

Box Office Info:
Budget: $35 million Financed by: N1 European Film; FOX; UK Film Council
Domestic Box Office: $7,660,806 Overseas Box Office: $3,900,000

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The Order (originally titled The Sin Eater) was originally in development at FOX back in 1996 when writer/director Brian Helgeland sold his script to the studio for $1 million against $1.5 million.  The project was moving forward in 1999 with Antonio Banderas in the lead, but FOX put it into turnaround after the studio wanted to trim the mid $30 million budget and had disputes with Helgeland over casting Banderas’ co-stars.

Former Polygram Filmed Entertainment president Michael Kuhn’s new company N1 European Film took on the orphaned project in 2001 and The Order was the first film they put into production.  N1 had landed a $200 million equity line bankrolled by Citibank and wasted much of their capital on this turkey.  The budget for The Order was $35 million and financing came from N1 European Film and FOX boarded the project again as distributor and contributed some capital to the production.  The UK Film Council also contributed £250,000.

The Heath Ledger vehicle was first dated for January 17, 2003 and then FOX pulled the release just two weeks before it was set to open, after poor special effects were deemed unintentionally hilarious.  The vfx were moved from the London based Mill Film to the Santa Monica based Asylum — and after the delay the title was changed to The Order (most overseas markets kept the original title).  The film was pushed back to September 5 and was dumped by FOX with a modest P&A spend.

The Order was not screened for critics and the reviews that eventually posted were overwhelmingly poor.  Buzz was non-existent and it was dead on arrival with $4,438,899 — placing #6 for one of the slowest weekends, when Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star led the frame with only $6.6 million.  Audiences slapped The Order with a hateful D+ cinemascore and it collapsed 74.3% the following weekend to $1,140,136 and then promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with just $7,660,806.

The Order saw a small theatrical release overseas, where it pulled in a mere $3,900,000.

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