- Directed By: Danny Boyle
- Written By: Alex Garland
- Release Date: July 20, 2007
- Domestic Distributor: Fox Searchlight
- Cast: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $45 million||Financed by: DNA Films; Fox Searchlight; Ingenious Film Partners; UK Film Council|
|Domestic Gross: $3,675,753||Overseas Gross: $28,342,050|
In February 2004, it was announced that Alex Garland sold his Sunshine spec script with Danny Boyle attached as director and the picture would be developed at DNA Films and Fox Searchlight. The budget was originally set at $40 million, which gave the specialty label Fox Searchlight pause, as the company normally handled less expensive fare. Searchlight’s parent FOX did not bid on the project after they saw disastrous box office numbers from their adult sci-fi picture Solaris. DNA arranged the financing so Fox Searchlight would not have to shoulder the majority of the expenses on the risky project. DNA co-financed with Searchlight and brought in Ingenious Film Partners and an investment from the UK Film Council. Fox Searchlight would handle US distribution and FOX would release the picture in most overseas markets.
Sunshine was originally scheduled for an October 2006 release, but Danny Boyle insisted only one vfx house (London’s Moving Picture Co.) work on the effects, so he could have better quality control — but it slowed post production down so much, it came in behind schedule almost a year and $5 million over budget. Sunshine was moved to March 16, 2007 and then pushed back to July 20 for the US release. The international release was set for April.
The first market Sunshine was released in was the UK, where it closed with a very disappointing $6,401,006. The film continued to post awful numbers as the international release continued and cumed just $28.3 million in receipts.
Opening months after the movie tanked in every market, Fox Searchlight dumped Sunshine in the US. Searchlight booked the picture into 10 theaters for one week and then would expand it to 461 locations in its second weekend. Despite generally positive reviews (even with a 3rd act that goes off the rails), Sunshine fell into a commercial dead zone. The trailer was far too generic to pull in art house auds and the lack of a proper marketing push would not reach mainstream auds. Such little care was put into the US release, that Searchlight posted an online marketing stunt that allowed viewers to watch all of the scenes where the main characters die — as if the studio was trying to make the sci-fi film resemble a Final Destination movie, as a last minute effort to confuse audiences into thinking the movie was something it was not.
Sunshine pulled in $242,964 opening weekend, with an ok $24,296 per screen average. The expansion was pitted against parent company FOX’s The Simpsons Movie and it grossed a terrible $1,262,996 in 13th place for the weekend. Sunshine sank 64.5% the following weekend to $448,386 and quietly ended its US run with a dismal $3,675,753.