16 Blocks

  • 16 Blocks box office
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      • Directed By: Richard Donner
      • Written By: Richard Wenk
      • Release Date: March 3, 2006
      • Domestic Distributor: Alcon Entertainment (through Warner Bros)
      • Cast: Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse

Box Office Info:
Budget: $52 millionFinanced by: Millennium Films; Equity Pictures; Emmett/Furla
Domestic Box Office: $36,895,141Overseas Box Office: $28,769,580

“We got some really good notices and it was frighteningly distributed by Warners and… Alcon. They had no knowledge of how to distribute a film.”
–Director Richard Donner


It was announced in April 2002 that Winchester Films paid Richard Wenk high-six figures to write 16 Blocks and Richard Donner committed to direct.  Winchester had a co-production deal with Paramount and Donner had a three year first-look deal with Winchester — but after Donner directed the box office disaster Timeline (2003) for Paramount, 16 Blocks never materialized at the studio.

The project eventually moved over to Millennium and landed a greenlight.  16 Blocks was budgeted at $52 million and was financed by Millennium/Nu Image, Emmet/Furla and some capital from the German tax shelter fund Equity Pictures.  16 Blocks was pre-sold worldwide which would limit their exposure to the budget.

Millennium was making the transition from low budget direct to video action and genre schlock to bigger budget projects with A-list casts.  Their first slate of mid to large budget fare were all money losers and with the exception of 16 Blocks, were all serious critical failures — The Black Dahlia88 MinutesThe Wicker Man, Edison and The Contract.

Alcon purchased distribution rights in the US with some additional coin provided by Equity Pictures and 16 Blocks was released through Alcon’s output deal with Warner Bros — which would receive a fee for use of its distribution resources.  The picture was dated for March 3, 2006 and bowed against Ultraviolet, Aquamarine and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.  The release date and marketing campaign brought the ire of director Richard Donner, who spoke of “the stupidity of how 16 Blocks was handled by Alcon and Warner Bros. I’m serious, they took 16 Blocks and put me out on a Friday against Dave Chappelle (Block Party) and the star of Dave Chappelle’s show was Mos Def. Who was the co-star of mine! They put us out on the same Friday night and that Sunday was the Academy Awards.”

Alcon/WB booked 16 Blocks into 2,706 theaters and it was tracking for a high teens opening, but it came in far below expectations with $11,855,260 — placing #2 for the weekend led by the holdover Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion.  16 Blocks had a modest 37.5% second weekend decline to $7,411,016 and another soft 35.8% dip in attendance in its third frame to $4,755,012 — but the domestic run closed with a disappointing $36,895,141.  Alcon would see returned about $20.2M after theaters take their percentage of the gross, plus a fee to WB, which would not cover the domestic P&A spend or their unreported acquisition cost.

Overseas, the movie pulled in poor numbers from most markets and grossed $28.7M across numerous distributors.  WB saw the highest overseas numbers in the UK with only $4,251,554.  16 Blocks marked the final picture from Donner.

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