Lions For Lambs

  • Lions for Lambs box office
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  • Directed By: Robert Redford
  • Written By: Matthew Michael Carnahan
  • Release Date: November 9, 2007
  • Domestic Distributor: United Artists
  • Cast: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Andrew Garfield

Box Office Info:
Budget: $35 millionFinanced by: United Artists
Domestic Gross: $15,002,854Overseas Gross: $48,213,018


In 2006 United Artists was being restructured by MGM chief Harry Sloan, who appointed Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner to revive UA and they took 30% ownership of the company, which was owned by MGM.  Harry Sloan set up a $500 million line of equity with Merrill Lynch for Cruise and Wagner to greenlight four films a year with budgets around $40 million to $50 million.  The first film out of the gate was the modestly priced $35 million Lions For Lambs and MGM sold off overseas rights to limit their exposure to the budget.  This marked Robert Redford’s first return to directing since his critically panned and major financial failure The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000).

UA handled the domestic release and heavily marketed Lions For Lambs as a prestige picture, pushing the A-list cast of Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and director/actor Robert Redford.  Audiences had ignored films about the ‘war on terror’ as In The Valley Of Elah flopped in September and Rendition flopped in October and tracking for the November 9 release of Lions For Lambs was heading in the $10 million range — UA had a lowball estimate of $8 million.

Despite the star wattage, mixed to poor reviews hurt what little appeal the topical picture had.  Of course it was skewered by neocons on the right, it was dismissed for its shallow neoliberal politics by the left and even landed poor notices from most liberal critics.  Whatever your political leanings are, Lions For Lambs says so much about so little.  If you think that line is portentous, try sitting through Redford’s dialogue.

It bowed against Fred Claus and the cheap horror flop P2.  Lions For Lambs came in below its low expectations at $6,702,434 — placing #4 for the weekend led by the holdover Bee Movie.  Unsurprisingly for a politically charged film, audiences gave it a terrible C cinemascore and it sank 56.8% in its second weekend to $2,896,594.  Lions For Lambs bombed out of release with just $15,002,854.  UA would see back about $8.25 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, far below their P&A expenses and their exposure to the budget would be all red.

It is estimated that United Artists lost $30 million on Lions For Lambs.  In 2008 Paula Wagner quit her post at UA and in 2011 MGM bought back all of United Artists, including their only two releases, Lions For Lambs and Valkyrie and two pics UA financed — Hot Tub Time Machine and Fame.

FOX released the film in the majority of overseas markets and it pulled in mostly soft numbers, grossing $48.2 million and it was savaged by international critics.  Tom Cruise’s star power mustered a decent $8.3 million in Italy for FOX and an ok $6.5 million in Spain, but the film outright flopped in the UK with $3.1 million.

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