School For Scoundrels

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  • Directed By: Todd Phillips
  • Written By: Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong
  • Release Date: September 29, 2006
  • Domestic Distributor: The Weinstein Company/MGM (Dimension)
  • Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Michael Clarke Duncan

Box Office Info:
Budget: $35 million Financed by: The Weinstein Company
Domestic Box Office: $17,807,569 Overseas Box Office: $6,140,116

“I’m not blaming Bob [Weinstein], who is a good friend of mine, but it was supposed to be R-rated and he said he’d only make it if it was PG-13. I go, ‘Bob, I don’t do that. I don’t speak in PG-13. I’m an R-rated human being.’ He goes, ‘It’s gotta be PG-13.’ So that’s what we did, and it hurt the movie. After that, I said, ‘Let me do a movie with zero compromise. I mean, f-ck it, man, just do your own thing.’ And then I did The Hangover.”
–Director Todd Phillips

It was announced in July 2002 that director Todd Phillips landed a three year first look deal at Miramax/Dimension and the Weinsteins had acquired the remake rights of School for Scoundrels (1960) for the filmmaker.  The project began to actively move forward in August 2005, just as the Weinsteins were exiting the Disney owned Miramax and School for Scoundrels was one of the titles that moved with them to The Weinstein Co.

School For Scoundrels was financed for $35 million by The Weinstein Company through their Dimension label.  The mini-major reduced their risk on this stinker by selling off overseas rights.  During post production Bob Weinstein had the movie toned down to a family friendly PG-13 rating, despite marketing that sold the picture off of Phillips’ success from the R-rated Old School and Billy Bob Thornton phoning in another rude Bad Santa type.  TWC did invest into an expensive P&A campaign and the picture went out through their co-distribution arrangement with MGM — where TWC used MGM as a rent-a-distributor for use of their distribution resources.

School for Scoundrels was dated for September 29, 2006 and to spread word of mouth, TWC held nationwide sneak previews the Saturday before its release at 1,500 theaters to 63% attendance.  The film was booked wide into 3,004 theaters and bowed against Open Season and The Guardian.  It would also have direct competition with the second weekend of Jackass: Number Two — but the marketplace could only seem to handle one movie where the humor revolved around men getting hit repeatedly in the balls.  Reviews were mixed to poor and it came in far below expectations with $8,602,333 — placing #4 for the weekend led by Open Season.  Scoundrels sank 60.1% in its second weekend to $3,433,587 and fell 62.1% in its third frame to $1,301,346 and then promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with a poor $17,807,569.  The Weinstein Company would see back about $9.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, far below their P&A spend.

Paramount released the film in the UK to a poor $1,411,719 which posted the strongest overseas numbers.  The overseas total was $6.1 million across numerous distributors and it was dumped straight to video in Australia and Italy.

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