Pirate Radio

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  • Directed By: Richard Curtis
  • Written By: Richard Curtis
  • Release Date: November 13, 2009
  • Domestic Distributor: Focus
  • Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson

Box Office Info:
Budget: $50 millionFinanced by: Working Title; StudioCanal
Domestic Gross: $8,017,917Overseas Gross: $28,330,867


The Boat That Rocked was one of the more expensive productions from London based Working Title, which is owned by Universal.  Working Title financed the picture for upwards of $50 million and received some additional coin from StudioCanal — which usually invests into Working Title’s movies for rights in France and a portion of the film’s backend.  The Boat That Rocked was expected to be a smash in the UK and it was the first market to open the film.  It was dated for April 1st and received poor reviews and ultimately disappointed with a $10.1 million cume.  The movie continued to post soft numbers in most countries, with the exception of a decent $7.1 million from France.  The overseas release accumulated a poor $28.3 million for Universal.

Universal initially was going to handle US distribution duties and scheduled it for August 28, but as the offshore numbers were mostly terrible, they pushed the release date back to November 13.  Universal then handed the movie over to its specialty division Focus for the stateside release, since Focus would be more equipped at marketing less commercial films.  They cut 20 minutes out of the movie and renamed it Pirate Radio and critics gave it mixed notices.

Focus booked Pirate Radio only moderately wide into 882 theaters as counterprogramming to the big budget disaster flick 2012.  It pulled in a disappointing $2,904,380 — placing #11 for the weekend led by 2012.  Universal had hopes that Pirate Radio would play well with older auds throughout the Thanksgiving holiday frame but it dropped 49.7% the following weekend to $1,460,592 and lost half of its theater count going into the holiday frame.  Pirate Radio closed its US run with only $8,017,917.

The worldwide total was $36.3M and about $19.9M would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross — far below global P&A expenses and the theatrical receipts would not touch the budget.

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