Two Brothers

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  • Directed By: Jean-Jacques Annaud
  • Written By: Alain Godard, Jean-Jacques Annaud
  • Release Date: June 25, 2004
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Freddie Highmore

Box Office Info:
Budget: $72 million Financed by: Pathé; Canal +; TF1
Domestic Gross: $19,176,754 Overseas Gross: $42,995,296

two brothers film
Two Brothers (Deux frères) was at the time of its release, the most expensive French production ever at ‎€60,000,000 (roughly $72,000,000 USD).  The shoot lasted a very long 169 days and the two leads played by tigers accounted for ‎€2,500,000 in animal training alone.  The french conglomerate Pathé arranged the financing for Two Brothers and insulated themselves from the risky budget by hugely successful pre-sales to distributors — who hoped to see even more success than director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s previous wildlife movie The Bear (1988).

Pathé handled their usual markets: France, UK, Switzerland and Benelux.  Universal paid a whopping ‎€27,000,000 for the US rights and in total Pathé landed ‎€40,000,000 from global pre-sales to distributors.  Limiting their exposure even more was their usual financing model of pre-selling the first-run TV rights to Canal + for €4,500,000 and also to TF1 for €2,100,000 million.

Two Brothers was filmed in English for the global market and Pathé decided to exploit the UK’s “sale and lease back” tax shelter programs to recover even more of the budget.  They set up a UK production company for the shoot to receive €5,000,000 in tax rebates.  The production ended up being 77% French and 23% British.  At least €51,600,000 in risky capital was shielded from Pathé before the cameras were rolling.

Pathé saw a successful $21.8M in receipts from France, but outside of its home market, Two Brothers flopped in most countries.  Pathé saw just $2.8M from the UK.  Two Brothers pulled in $42.9M from its international run across numerous distributors.

Universal dated Two Brothers for June 25, 2004 — but the market was saturated with family fare: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Shrek 2, Garfield: The Movie and the flop Around the World in 80 DaysTwo Brothers bowed against Fahrenheit 9/11, White Chicks and The Notebook.  Universal booked the movie wide into 2,175 theaters, but buzz was low.  It pulled in just $6,144,160 — placing #9 for the weekend led by Fahrenheit 9/11.  The pic sank 56.3% to $2,682,630 the following frame and fell 54% to $1,235,320 in its third session and then promptly lost most of its theater count.  The US run closed with only $19,176,754.  Universal would see returned about $10.5M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — leaving much of their P&A costs in the red and their pricey acquisition offer untouched by the theatrical receipts.

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