- Directed By: Matthew O’Callaghan
- Written By: Ken Kaufman
- Release Date: July 14, 1999
- Domestic Distributor: Sony
- Cast: Frank Welker, Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Eugene Levy
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $50 million||Financed by: Universal|
|Domestic Gross: $58,360,760||Overseas Gross: $12,412,485|
Curious George was the first Universal Studios animated film since the 1995 box office flop Balto. Curious George was first licensed by Universal in 1997 and then had a long, tortuous journey through development. 42 writers came and went and the big screen version of the monkey was conceived over the years as live action, mixed media, CG, live action & CG and then it was finally decided that it would go into production as a 2D feature. The budget was reported by Universal as $50 million (though industry estimates peg the costs far higher because of the length of pre-production) and costs were kept down by outsourcing 60% of the work to animation slaves across the globe.
The Curious George brand had been so heavily pushed by Universal Studios consumer products group over the years, that all licensing deals already in place were worth over $500 million. In addition to the brand exposure, the movie had tie-ins for postage stamps, cereal boxes, cold-medicines, Curious George stickers on 100 million Dole bananas and dozens more. Curious George was dated for February 10 and would be competing for family audiences with The Pink Panther, which was also opening. Other movies that bowed were Final Destination 3 and Firewall. Curious George received lukewarm reviews and opened above expectations with $14,703,405. The toon declined a modest 20% to $11,767,445 in its second frame, even with another addition to the family market, Eight Below. Curious George saw modest weekly drops and closed its run with $58,360,760.
The film pulled in terrible numbers overseas, with just $12.4 million in ticket sales. Curious George posted its highest numbers in the UK with a poor $2,763,105 and saw a dismal $880,828 in Australia and grossed under a million in most markets. The worldwide total was $70.7 million, leaving Universal with about $38.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not cover the worldwide P&A spend or any of the budget. Curious George pulled in strong home video sales in the US, bringing in over $50 million and spawned a few direct to video sequels.