City Of Ember

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    [Total: 9 Average: 3.8]
  • Directed By: Gil Kenan
  • Written By: Caroline Thompson
  • Release Date: October 10, 2008
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Tim Robbins

Box Office Info:
Budget: $55 million Financed by: Walden Media
Domestic Box Office: $7,873,007 Overseas Box Office: $10,056,677

city of ember 2008
In October 2004, Tom Hanks’ production company Playtone acquired the novel rights to City Of Ember for mid-six figures and set the project up at Walden Media.  The budget for City Of Ember was $55 million and it was financed by Walden Media. Walden and FOX formed a joint distribution and marketing partnership in August 2006 called none other than Walden-Fox and City Of Ember was set to go out through the newly formed company.

The family film was dated for October 10, 2008 and Walden had ambitious franchise plans for the property.  In July 2008 Walden spent lavishly on promoting the movie at Comic Con.  They rented two vintage 1949 train cars and attached them onto an Amtrak train and hired set decorators to design the interior with props from the movie.  The second train car was equipped to show 15 minutes of footage.  Walden invited about two dozen influential industry reporters and bloggers to take a two and half hour ride to San Diego on the train.  Outside of the vacuum of the nerd festival, City Of Ember was unknown to almost the entire movie going public and all this money and effort was wasted when FOX dumped the film.

Just one week before City Of Ember‘s release, FOX absorbed the Walden marketing branch, laid off 12 employees and the picture was thrown into the marketplace with little care or money spent.  With scaled back marketing from FOX, the film was booked into 2,022 theaters and bowed against Body Of Lies and The Express.

It landed mixed reviews and predictably bombed with an awful $3,129,473 — placing outside the top 10 at #11 for the weekend led by holdover Beverly Hills Chihuahua.  City Of Ember declined 44.7% in its second weekend to $1,730,755 and then promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with only $7,873,007.  FOX would see returned about $4.2 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross.  FOX never even bothered to release the film on Blu-Ray in the US and stripped all extras off the DVD.

Summit sold the overseas rights, which sold very well to distributors who also dumped the film.  City of Ember pulled in $10,056,677 overseas and went straight to video in Germany, Sweden, Japan and Brazil.

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