Southland Tales

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  • Directed By: Richard Kelly
  • Written By: Richard Kelly
  • Release Date: November 14, 2007
  • Domestic Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn; Destination Films; Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group
  • Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake

Box Office Info:
Budget: $18.5 million Financed by: Cherry Road; Universal Pictures International; Inferno Distribution; Wild Bunch
Domestic Gross: $275,380 Overseas Gross: $101,649

southland tales richard kelly
In late 2003 Cherry Road came on board to finance early development for Southland Tales and shopped the project around to different studios and companies and eventually landed a deal with Universal Intl.  — which handled overseas pre-sales.  Universal decided to distribute Southland Tales themselves in most international markets and Wild Bunch boarded the picture and would distribute in France, Benelux, Spain and Switzerland.  Additional co-financing also came from Inferno Distribution.  The initial budget for Southland Tales was set at an ambitious $17.5 million, with most actors working for scale and the majority of the raised funds going toward expensive LA locations.

Paris based Wild Bunch had Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Frémaux take a look at Southland Tales as a work in progress and the movie landed a coveted competition slot at the festival, which would be the movie’s undoing.  Southland Tales premiered at Cannes in 2006 in an unfinished cut and in search of a domestic distributor.  It was the most anticipated title at the prestigious festival and US studios were circling the film, with Universal’s sibling company Focus having first look privilege.  That buzz became toxic once the film screened to some of the most scathing reviews and reception the festival ever had.  The pic left Cannes without a domestic buyer.  Sony picked up US distribution rights a month after the festival for just under $5 million, invested an additional $1 million to complete visual effects and had director Richard Kelly continue editing the film.

Sony toyed with the idea of releasing Southland Tales through either Sony Pictures Classics or Screen Gems, but ultimately decided to partner with Destination Films and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group to finally release the movie through Samuel Goldwyn Films.  After much rumblings about if the movie would even land a theatrical release, Southland Tales finally made to 63 theaters on November 14, 2007.  Marketing and awareness were practically nonexistent and the movie pulled in a poor $123,428 with a not very promising per screen average of $1,959.  Southland Tales played in just 29 locations in its second frame and sank 69.7% to $37,361 and quickly ended its brief theatrical run with $275,380.

Universal released the film in the UK in 15 theaters pulling in just $89,942 and the film made all of $11,707 on 1 screen in Turkey.  Southland Tales was dumped by Universal straight to video in every other country.  Wild Bunch sent the pic straight to video in March 2009 in France.

After the commercial and critical failure of Southland Tales, Richard Kelly set out to make a more marketable film and saw his follow up The Box receive a rare and hateful F cinemascore from audiences and derail his directing career.


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