The Taking Of Pelham 123

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  • Directed By: Tony Scott
  • Written By: Brian Helgeland
  • Release Date: June 12, 2009
  • Domestic Distributor: Sony
  • Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzmán, John Turturro

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 million Financed by: Sony; Relativity Media
Domestic Gross: $65,452,312 Overseas Gross: $84,713,814

The Taking of Pelham 123 box office
The remake of The Taking Of Pelham 123 (1974) was developed at Sony, which mined the property from the MGM library that they acquired in late 2004.  The studio signed Denzel Washington in September 2007 for a $20M payday.  After the high salaries of John Travolta and Tony Scott, the budget for The Taking Of Pelham 123 became completely irresponsible at just over $100 million — especially for a R rated hostage thriller that mostly takes place in smaller contained sets.  Sony co-financed with Relativity Media.

With the lead actors signed, Sony was racing to get the script in shooting condition before the Writers Guild strike, which its greenlight was contingent on.  With just a few days before the deadline, Brian Helgeland turned in the shooting draft and the WGA went on strike November 5, 2007 and The Taking Of Pelham 123 made it before the cameras.  Sony dated the expensive remake for June 12, 2009 and it received mixed reviews.  It bowed against Imagine That and was tracking for a soft $25 million bow.  It came in just below expectations with $23,373,102 — placing #3 for the weekend led by the holdover The Hangover.

One week after the disappointing opening, FOX stalled development on Tony Scott and Denzel Washington’s next collaboration Unstoppable, until the budget was shaved below $100M.

Sony expected the movie to leg out since it attracted an older audience, but The Taking Of Pelham 123 fell 48.5% to $12,034,899 the following weekend and then sank 54.7% to $5,451,107 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with $65,452,312.

Sony handled overseas distribution in most markets and predicted that the international numbers would pick up the slack left by the domestic gross.  The film did moderately well, with an $84.7M cume, but not nearly enough to avoid a write-down for a movie of this expense.  The worldwide gross was $150.1M and Sony would see returned about $82.5M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would likely cover the global P&A expenses, but the theatrical receipts would not dent the budget.

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