Amelia

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  • Directed By: Mira Nair
  • Written By: Ronald Bass, Anna Hamilton Phelan
  • Release Date: October 23, 2009
  • Domestic Distributor: Fox Searchlight
  • Cast: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor

Box Office Info:
Budget: $40 millionFinanced by: Avalon Pictures; Fox Searchlight
Domestic Box Office: $14,245,415Overseas Box Office: $5,396,598


Co-founder of Gateway computers Ted Waitt decided to get into the film financing business to fund a passion project of his about Amelia Earhart.  Phillip Noyce was tapped to direct and worked on developing the screenplay from July to December 2007, until the WGA strike stalled the project.  Noyce left Amelia when development stopped and Mira Nair took over directing duties in January 2008.  After Nair joined the production, Fox Searchlight was eager to handle distribution, since they had a successful collaboration with the director on her 2007 picture The Namesake.

The budget for Amelia was $40 million and it was majority financed by Ted Waitt’s newly formed Avalon Pictures and Fox Searchlight invested a small amount of capital into the project.  This flop would mark the first and last film from Avalon and Ted Waitt.  Fox Searchlight (and parent company FOX) handled worldwide distribution and would cover the marketing expenses.

Amelia was dated for October 23, 2009 and was positioned as an end of the year Oscar hopeful, but then the reviews came in.  Amelia was overwhelmingly panned by critics, which didn’t help its already limited commercial prospects.  Fox Searchlight decided to sidestep a platform release due to weak buzz and the atrocious reviews and opted for a wider release, to squeeze as much box office out of this stinker before negative word of mouth killed it.

Amelia was booked moderately wide into 820 theaters and it bowed against Saw VI, Astro Boy and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.  It was dead on arrival with $3,904,047 — placing #11 for the weekend led by Paranormal Activity.  Fox Searchlight pushed a more aggressive expansion in its second frame to 1,070 theaters with no growth at $3,034,667.  Amelia closed its domestic run with only $14,245,415.

FOX put the film out overseas to terrible numbers, pulling in just $5.3M.  The worldwide cume was $19.6M, which would return about $10.7M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — below P&A expenses and the theatrical receipts would not touch the budget.  A small loss for Fox Searchlight and a large tax write-off for Ted Waitt.

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