Team America: World Police
- Directed By: Trey Parker
- Written By: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Pam Brady
- Release Date: October 15, 2004
- Domestic Distributor: Paramount
- Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Daran Norris
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $32 million||Financed by: Paramount; MMDP GmbH & Co. Project KG|
|Domestic Gross: $32,786,074||Overseas Gross: $18,121,348|
The budget for Team America: World Police was $32 million and it was financed by Paramount and the studio received some coin from the German tax shelter fund MMDP GmbH & Co. Project KG. To ease the studio’s concerns about the commercial potential of a R-rated puppet feature, Trey Parker, Matt Stone and producer Scott Rudin waived $7 million of their fees to keep the expenses manageable. Rudin also forgoed his cut of the movie’s backend profits.
The marionette production was far more complicated than initially expected and the filmmakers were still shooting footage nearly two weeks before the October 15, 2004 release date. Adding to the headache of mounting this movie was the puritanical MPAA slapping Team America with a NC-17 rating over a hilariously ridiculous puppet sex scene. The film was submitted 10 times to the ratings board with cuts before it finally landed a R certificate.
Paramount used their sister networks, Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Spike to heavily promote Team America. Nationwide sneak previews of the film were held a week before its release on Saturday, October 9 at 800 locations to help spread word of mouth. The R rated puppet movie was tracking strong going into domestic release, between $18 – $20 million. It bowed against Shall We Dance.
Reviews were positive, but Team America: World Police came in far below expectations at $12,120,358 — placing #3 for the weekend led by the holdover Shark Tale. The picture had weak legs and declined 47.3% to $6,388,442 in its second frame and fell 51.7% in its third session to $3,083,704. The domestic run closed with a disappointing $32,786,074.
Overseas, Team America: World Police pulled in a decent enough $9.3 million in the UK through UIP (joint distribution between Paramount and Universal), but flopped in most markets. The film grossed a poor $1.2 million in Germany and a miserable $388,063 from France and besides a soft $3.7 million from Australia, every other market pulled in less than a million dollars. The overseas cume was $18,121,348. The worldwide gross was $50.9M. Paramount would see returned about $27.9M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — leaving tens of millions worth of global P&A costs in the red and the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.
Team America likely broke even or even squeaked into profit after strong home video sales. Paramount’s corporate sibling Comedy Central paid $3.2M for a 4-year broadcast license.
Team America was another under performer for Paramount, which had been in a three year slump and one month after it opened (and three days before the Paramount bomb Alfie opened), the head of Paramount Sherry Lansing announced she would exit her post after 12 years on the job. Scott Rudin produced three Paramount bombs in 2004: The Stepford Wives, The Manchurian Candidate and Team America.
Oddly enough, one of the inspirations for Team America was the puppet show Thunderbirds, which was adapted into a big budget live-action movie a few months earlier and flopped horribly.