The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford box office
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  • Directed By: Andrew Dominik
  • Written By: Andrew Dominik, Ron Hansen
  • Release Date: September 21, 2007
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell

Box Office Info:
Budget: $30 millionFinanced by: Warner Bros; Virtual Studios
Domestic Box Office: $3,909,149Overseas Box Office: $11,092,627

”Jesse James is a movie that made less than $4 million in the US, in its initial release. It was probably only released on five screens, ever, at one time. I don’t know if any films ever penetrate the zeitgeist without some sort of marketing muscle behind them, which ‘Jesse James’ didn’t have. The studio basically found the process of finishing that film so traumatic and unpleasant that they just wanted it to go away. Now, I’m not suggesting that the result might have been different, but we won’t know. The movie business is a business. That’s $30 million that made like $15 million. By any criteria that matters, to those who were investing money in film, it’s nothing but an abject failure. It’s very sad, but that’s reality. That’s not an insignificant amount of money, and I felt bad and responsible. People give you the money to make a movie, and that’s not insignificant. I don’t feel good about losing people’s money.”
Director Andrew Dominik

The budget for The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was $30 million and it was co-financed by Warner Bros and the short lived private equity hedge fund Virtual Studios, which invested $528 million into six WB films.  Warner Bros also split the worldwide marketing costs with Virtual and before Virtual would see back any revenue, WB would have to recoup its P&A spend and receive a 12.5% distribution fee.

Filming completed in 2005 with a fall 2006 release planned, but Jesse James was delayed over a year when Warner Bros and director Andrew Dominik disagreed over the editing of the film.  The original cut was over four hours long and after months of additional trims, it went down to three hours, then two hours and forty minutes and numerous versions of the film were tested.  While Jesse James was in release limbo, Virtual Studios saw their huge investment in WB’s 2006 films Poseidon and The Good German vanish.  Then WB gave up on the commercial potential of the movie and dumped The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.

The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford landed positive reviews and was booked into 5 theaters.  It pulled in $147,812 and the per screen average was a decent enough $29,562 but then the picture struggled while expanding.  In its third week of release, Jesse James increased its theater count to 61 and grossed $420,331.  It never expanded beyond 301 theaters and the domestic run closed with only $3,909,149.

For the overseas release, WB opened the film in the UK with a solid limited release in 61 theaters, mostly targeting London cinephiles, where they expected the majority of the film’s business.  The film pulled in $371,887, with an ok $6,097 per screen average, but Jesse James never expanded beyond the 61 locations and closed with just $1,725,347.  France posted the strongest overseas numbers with a mediocre $2.5 million and the overseas total for WB was $11 million.  Even with Brad Pitt’s star power the film went straight to video in Russia.

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