State Of Play

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  • Directed By: Kevin Macdonald
  • Written By: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray
  • Release Date: April 17, 2009
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams

Box Office Info:
Budget: $60 million Financed by: Working Title; StudioCanal; Relativity
Domestic Gross: $37,017,955 Overseas Gross: $50,794,416

State of Play 2009
London based Working Title, which was owned by Universal, financed this remake of the 2003 BBC mini-series State Of Play for $60 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.  Relativity had a slate financing arrangement with Universal and also invested into the project.

In late November 2007, just one week before filming was set to begin, Brad Pitt dropped out after citing script concerns.  The production was put on hiatus until it landed a new A-list lead.  Two weeks later a deal was reached with Russell Crowe and he was paid $20 million to sign on and keep the film from going into turnaround, which gave the picture a bump in the budget.

State Of Play was dated for April 17, 2009 and was tracking poorly going into release and was looking to open even below Russell Crowe’s previous film, the 2008 flop Body Of Lies.  Also at this point in Ben Affleck’s career, he couldn’t draw flies and had been taking supporting roles to regain his credibility after a series of terrible movies that ended with Surviving Christmas (2004).  State Of Play would become yet another mid-budget adult picture ignored by its core audience.

It bowed against 17 Again and Crank: High Voltage.  Reviews were lukewarm and Universal was hoping to reach $10M opening weekend and State Of Play managed to come in above expectations with a modest $14,071,280 — placing #2 for the weekend led by 17 Again.  Even with an excellent A- cinemascore, the film sank 51.3% in its second weekend to $6,848,885, ending its chances at breaking out.  The domestic run closed with $37,017,955.

Overseas, Universal handled most markets and State of Play had its strongest run in the UK with a decent $9.2 million and its overseas total was $50,794,416.  Universal would see back about $48.2 million after theaters take their percentage of the global gross, which would not even cover the expensive worldwide P&A spend and the budget would be in the red.

State Of Play was one of many reasons Universal Pictures Chairman Marc Shmuger would be replaced in October, after a string of recent Universal flops, including Duplicity, Land of the Lost, Funny People and the out of control budgets for the as of yet to be released The Wolfman, Robin Hood and Green Zone.

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