Suspect Zero

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  • Directed By: E. Elias Merhige
  • Written By: Zak Penn, Billy Ray
  • Release Date: August 27, 2004
  • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
  • Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Ben Kingsley, Carrie-Anne Moss

Box Office Info:
Budget: $27 million Financed by: Intermedia Films; New Mexico
Domestic Box Office: $8,725,813 Overseas Box Office: $2,690,262

Zak Penn’s Suspect Zero screenplay was sold to Universal in 1995 for $750,000.  The well regarded script landed Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner as producers and numerous actors were circling the project and it almost materialized as a Stallone vehicle in 1997.  After a few false starts, Universal dropped Suspect Zero.

German based Intermedia Films eventually landed the picture and financed.  The budget for Suspect Zero was $27 million.  The state of New Mexico became an equity investor by giving the production a $7.5 million interest free loan, as part of their $85 million Severance Tax Fund to lure productions to film in the state.  Paramount came on as domestic distributor and Lakeshore Entertainment took on foreign distribution sales.

Filmed in 2002, Suspect Zero was scheduled for an October 2003 release, before being delayed and then dumped in the end of summer dead zone in 2004.  It opened against Hero, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid and the most disturbing release of the week Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2.  Reviews were awful and Suspect Zero was booked into 1,500 theaters and pulled in a terrible $3,446,375 — placing #10 for the weekend led by Hero.  Audiences did not like the film any more than critics and gave Suspect Zero a toxic C- cinemascore and it declined 43.9% in its second weekend to $1,932,056.  It then collapsed 75.1% in its third session to $481,834 and closed its domestic run with only $8,725,813.  Paramount would see back about $4.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would leave much of the modest P&A costs in the red and no cash overages to go back to Intermedia.

Suspect Zero saw a small release overseas in a few markets in late 2004 and 2005 to all of $2,690,262 and went straight to video in most countries.  Despite being funded with German coin, it grossed just $255,160 in Germany.  Intermedia posted a net loss of $29.4 million, which it attributed to Alexander, Suspect Zero, If Only and Mindhunters.

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