The Good Shepherd

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  • Directed By: Robert De Niro
  • Written By: Eric Roth
  • Release Date: December 22, 2006
  • Domestic Distributor: Morgan Creek (through Universal)
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin

Box Office Info:
Budget: $90 million Financed by: Morgan Creek
Domestic Box Office: $59,952,835 Overseas Box Office: $39,527,645

The Good Shepherd had been in development since 1994, at Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope, which was setting up the pic at MGM.  After changing numerous hands, the project began to actively move forward in 2002 at Universal, when Leonardo DiCaprio became attached as the lead.  As the budget was estimated to climb past $110 million, Universal brought on Graham King’s Initial Entertainment Group to co-finance the picture.  DiCaprio eventually left the project, which prompted Graham King to pull out as well.  To keep the project from collapsing it was brought to Morgan Creek, which agreed to fully finance The Good Shepherd for $90 million.  Morgan Creek had a long standing domestic distribution arrangement at Universal, where Morgan Creek finances their P&A spend and uses Universal’s distribution resources for a fee.

The expensive drama was dated for December 22 as a potential awards player and bowed into the crowded Christmas frame against Night at the Museum, Rocky Balboa and We Are Marshall.  Reviews were lukewarm at best and The Good Shepherd pulled in $9,912,110 in 2,215 theaters — placing #4 for the weekend led by Night at the Museum.  The Good Shepherd saw an 11% increase in its second weekend (New Year’s frame) to $11,000,510 and the film posted modest weekly declines.  Despite pulling in $59,952835, its numbers were troubling for a $90 million budget and tens of millions more to market.  Morgan Creek would see returned about $33 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would likely cover most their domestic ad spend.

While The Good Shepherd was in release overseas, Morgan Creek head James G. Robinson told the Hollywoodreporter: “Right now, it is playing all over the world, and we are just not sure [how it will do].  But it is most certainly not a hit.”  The Good Shepherd struggled and posted a poor $39.5 million across multiple distributors and the film was a dud in Japan, grossing $3.2 million and ended in a lengthy court battle.  Japan distributor Toho-Towa distributed the film for a fee from Morgan Creek and Toho fronted the marketing spend, but Morgan Creek would be responsible to cover Toho’s investment if the film posted a loss.  In 2012 the courts found Morgan Creek responsible for $5.7 million in losses for the Japan release and froze their bank accounts until Toho collected.

The Good Shepherd severely damaged Morgan Creek’s bottom line, which saw two small releases in 2007, Georgia Rule and Sydney White and then suspended operations until 2011, where they were killed off by the flops Dream House and The ThingMorgan Creek briefly re-emerged, by selling off their entire library of movies and used that to fund the 2017 flop All Eyez On Me.

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  1. I saw this in theaters with my girlfriend at the time. We saw probably 100 movies together over the 3 years we were together. This was EASILY the closest we ever came to walking out of one. And it wasn’t necessarily bad, just incredibly slow and boring. Which really surprised me, considering Matt Damon was red hot at the time, De Niro directing, and subject matter that should have made for an engaging flick. Instead we got Angelina being pissed at Damon for 2 and a half hours and exactly two memorable scenes: one where a guy is forced to take LSD and then kills himself by jumping out of a window, and another where a girl is thrown out of a plane from about 5,000 feet.

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