The Good German

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  • Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
  • Written By: Paul Attanasio
  • Release Date: December 15, 2006
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire

Box Office Info:
Budget: $32 millionFinanced by: Warner Bros; Virtual Studios
Domestic Box Office: $1,308,696Overseas Box Office: $4,606,212


In February 2001, WB optioned the theatrical rights to Joseph Kanon’s The Good German novel for Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney’s Section Eight production company.  The studio hired Paul Attanasio to write both The Good German and what would become an unused Superman screenplay for $3.5M.  Soderbergh helmed this project between Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, which gave him the clout to convince Warner Bros to back this non-commercial picture.  Soderbergh said: “We finally gave Warners the option of either an animated film or a black-and-white live-action film shot as a classic 1940s film would have been. Which is really not fair – like offering them the gun or the knife. They went with the live action.” 

The budget for The Good German was $32 million and it was financed by Warner Bros and Virtual Studios — which was a hedge fund that infused $528 million into 6 Warner Bros productions.  This was the second WB/Virtual film to flop in 2006, the other was the box office disaster Poseidon.

This high profile, black & white movie with an all-star cast, was too difficult a sell to mainstream audiences and the mixed to poor critical reception made it a difficult sell to art house auds.  Warner Bros opened The Good German in the US in 5 theaters on December 15 in a crowded end of the year market and it pulled in $76,817 with a soft $15,363 per screen average.  The film expanded to 19 theaters in its second weekend to $95,539 with a troubling $5,028 per screen average.  It never expanded beyond 66 theaters and the domestic run stalled with only $1,308,696.

Warner Bros turned down the opportunity to have European distribution and financing partners, expecting the picture to play well overseas, but it was met with a cold reception.  The Good German was dumped in limited release in most markets and Spain returned the highest numbers with just $1,351,208 and the overseas total was a mere $4.6 million.  After the terrible rollout, The Good German was dumped straight to video in Russia and some smaller markets.

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