Timeline

  • timeline 2003 box office
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  • Directed By: Richard Donner
  • Written By: Jeff Maguire, George Nolfi
  • Release Date: November 26, 2003
  • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
  • Cast: Paul Walker, Frances O’Connor, Gerard Butler

Box Office Info:
Budget: $80 millionFinanced by: Paramount; Mutual Film Group; Cobalt Media
Domestic Box Office: $19,481,943Overseas Box Office: $24,453,820


In 1999, author Michael Crichton sold the Timeline book rights to Paramount for no money, but with a potentially very lucrative backend deal that pays 15% of the first-dollar gross to Crichton, his representative Artists Management Group and director Richard Donner, until they receive a $3 million producing fee.  If Paramount did not make the picture, there would be a $1 million termination fee.  If the film became profitable, the backend gross points would increase — this fiasco never became profitable.

Mutual Film Group and Cobalt Media Group co-financed Timeline with Paramount and the studio would distribute in the US.  Overseas distribution was set up through Mutual’s distribution partners, Cobalt and some territories through Paramount via UIP (joint distribution between Paramount and Universal).  During pre-sales at Cannes, Mutual and Cobalt were selling the project as a $100+ million blockbuster, but at the time of release the budget for Timeline was reported at $80 million, likely after tax breaks.

After Donner delivered his cut, Paramount head Sherry lansing demanded numerous edits to the picture, delaying the release.  After bouncing around the calendar, Timeline eventually opened over the crowded Thanksgiving holiday frame in 2,787 theaters and received terrible reviews.  Pre-release awareness was high among auds — but despite being aware of the movie, tracking suggested it was not moviegoers first choice to see in theaters.

It bowed against The Haunted Mansion, Bad Santa and The Missing.  The expensive film was tracking for a mid-teens weekend, but cratered with $8,440,629 — placing #8 for the frame led by the holdover The Cat In The Hat.  Audiences weren’t too thrilled about the film either and gave it a C+ cinemascore and Timeline sank a huge 67.7% in its second weekend to $2,729,568 and followed that with a 68.1% decline to $869,644.  Timeline quickly left theaters with $19,481,943.  Paramount would see back about $10.6 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would leave much of the P&A costs in the red.

Timeline pulled in mostly awful numbers overseas, with most markets grossing less than $1 million.  Timeline played moderately well in Japan with $8.8 million, which comprised the highest tally from its $24,453,820 overseas total.

Richard Donner began developing his next project 16 Blocks at Paramount, but after the massive commercial and critical failure of Timeline, it moved over to Millennium Films.  Paramount also had a terrible 2003, which saw their expensive tentpole fare The Core, Timeline and Paycheck all flop at the box office.

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