The Manchurian Candidate

  • The Manchurian Candidate box office
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    • Directed By: Jonathan Demme
    • Written By: Daniel Pyne, Dean Georgaris
    • Release Date: July 30, 2004
    • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
    • Cast:  Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber

Box Office Info:
Budget: $80 millionFinanced by: Paramount
Domestic Gross: $65,955,630Overseas Gross: $30,150,334


One month after Jonathan Demme’s disastrous remake of CharadeThe Truth About Charlie (2002) had flopped, he signed onto this remake of John Frankenheimer’s classic The Manchurian Candidate (1962).  Paramount financed the picture for $80 million and The Manchurian Candidate was one of three high profile 2004 remakes at Paramount which all flopped — the other two were The Stepford Wives and Alfie.  Another Frankenheimer remake Seconds was being pushed into development at Paramount around the time of this film’s release, but never got off the ground after The Manchurian Candidate tanked.

The Manchurian Candidate was dated for July 30, 2004 and the studio was hoping the 2004 presidential election would for some reason help bolster sales due to its subject matter.  Gone was the controversial dark satire of the original picture’s politics and in was broad platitudes about a Halliburton type business being evil and profiteering off of war and having political influence.  Beyond the notion that big business is bad, the movie was mostly apolitical, non-controversial and a standard Paramount thriller that failed to turn into a commercial hit.

The Manchurian Candidate bowed against The Village (also produced by Scott Rudin), Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and the turkey Thunderbirds.   It had direct competition with The Village, but it opened within expectations at $20,018,620 — placing #3 for the weekend led by The Village.  Paramount expected the movie to leg out, but it fell 48.8% the following weekend to $10,256,421, ending its chances at breaking out.  The domestic run closed with $65,955,630 — decent enough numbers for an adult thriller, but not nearly enough for an expensive film that would have little appeal outside of the US.

The overseas cume was just $30.1M, bringing the worldwide total to $96.1M.  Paramount would see returned about $52.8M after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not cover their P&A expenses, or any of the production costs.

Paramount was in a three year slump and the 2004 slate of pictures were mostly bombs and on November 2 studio head Sherry Lansing announced she would exit her post after 12 years on the job.  Producer Scott Rudin saw three Paramount titles do poor box office in 2004: The Manchurian Candidate, The Stepford Wives and Team America: World Police.

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