The Road

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  • Directed By: John Hillcoat
  • Written By: Joe Penhall
  • Release Date: November 25, 2009
  • Domestic Distributor: The Weinstein Company (Dimension)
  • Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron

Box Office Info:
Budget: $25 millionFinanced by: 2929 Entertainment
Domestic Box Office: $8,117,000Overseas Box Office: $19,518,305

“Bob [Weinstein] did actually apologize and say he saw in hindsight that they completely f-cked [the release] up.”
–Director John Hillcoat


The Road was the third film to be adapted from a Cormac McCarthy novel, after the flop All The Pretty Horses (2000) and the Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men (2007).  Producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler won the theatrical rights to the novel after it was in a bidding war shortly before its publication in 2006.  Wechsler had a first-look deal in place at Mark Cuban’s 2929 Entertainment, which boarded the project for financing duties.  The budget for The Road was $25 million and international pre-sales to distributors mitigated their risk on the gritty project.  To keep costs down, the production filmed in derelict locations in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Louisiana to minimize CGI for the apocalyptic setting.

2929 first tried to partner with Fox Searchlight to handle the domestic release, but the specialty label passed on the bleak film.  The Weinstein Company agreed to handle stateside distribution, which they eventually botched and that led to Cuban publically slamming the mini-major for dumping The Road.  Director John Hillcoat has said: “[The Weinstein Company] actively tried to bury the film. They went out of their way to literally bury it. It only came out on I think 100 screens, and it was a huge best-seller, and they didn’t believe that the book audience would be interested in the film. The visibility and awareness of it was next to none.”

The Road was first dated for a limited release on November 14, 2008 and a nationwide expansion set for November 26 as an awards hopeful, but the film was pulled off of TWC’s calendar and pushed into 2009.  TWC press releases claimed the picture needed additional time editing, but the rumor mill began to speculate that the Weinsteins were interfering.  After months of silence, The Road was penciled in for October 16, 2009 and then shifted to the Thanksgiving holiday frame on November 25.

The Road premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2009 and despite the year long delay, there was still award buzz.  Reviews were lukewarm to positive and The Road was set to open in wide release over the holiday.  As the date approached, marketing was minimal and then TWC nixed the wide bow and dumped The Road into 111 theaters with no expansion planned.  Even though it was thrown into the marketplace with little care, there was interest from art house auds and it pulled in $1,502,231 with a $13,534 per screen average.  It then fell 50.1% to $749,535 in its second frame.  The Road expanded at its widest in its fourth frame to just 396 locations and it struggled with only $660,274.  The domestic run closed with a poor $8,117,000.  TWC would see returned about $4.4M after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

The Road was a non-performer in most offshore markets and grossed $19.5M across numerous distributors.

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