Where the Wild Things Are

  • Where the Wild Things Are box office
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  • Directed By: Spike Jonze
  • Written By: Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers
  • Release Date: October 16, 2009
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Max Records, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 million Financed by: Village Roadshow; Warner Bros; Legendary
Domestic Box Office: $77,233,467 Overseas Box Office: $22,853,326

Disney landed the rights to the children’s classic Where The Wild Things Are in the early 1980s and abandoned the project after an animation test.  In 1992 Sony attempted to launch the picture, but nothing materialized.  In February 1999 it was announced that Universal acquired the rights and set Gore Verbinski to helm the project as a CG animated film.  After two years of silence, Universal announced that Where The Wild Things Are would be directed by Disney animator Eric Goldberg.  Another PR in October 2003 announced that Spike Jonze was attached to direct, but in 2005 the studio put the project into turnaround.

Jonze took Where The Wild Things Are over to Sony, but after the studio saw terrible box office returns from another family film Zathura (2005), they did not want to be involved with another difficult to sell kids pic and quickly put it into turnaround.  Finally in January 2006 Warner Bros purchased the rights and Where The Wild Things Are formally landed a greenlight and its very troubled production began.

Where the Wild Things Are was 50% financed by Village Roadshow, 25% by Warner Bros and 25% by Legendary.  Production originally wrapped back in 2006 with a budget near $80 million, but things went awry after a test screening apparently had very bored children crying from the odd tone and images.  The ‘Wild Things’ were filmed in practical costumes with animatronic controlled facial expressions, but the result was lifeless and bland and very expensive retooling of the picture began.  CGI was added to the costumes and extensive reshoots were ordered.  The original October 2008 release was delayed a year to get the picture in releasable condition and the budget for Where the Wild Things Are rose to at least $100 million.

Where The Wild Things Are was dated for October 16, 2009 and had negative buzz from the leaks over the years about the production woes.  A strong and well put together marketing campaign that targeted families, as well as teens and adults helped spark renewed interest in the classic property and away from the chatter that the movie was damaged goods.  Strong reviews also certainly helped.  It bowed against Law Abiding Citizen and the remake of The Stepfather.

Where the Wild Things Are surprised with a solid $32,695,407 opening — winning the weekend box office.  Despite decent word of mouth, the movie sank 57.1% in its second frame to $14,019,406 and then plummeted 57.7% in its third session to $5,931,417.  The domestic run closed with $77,233,467.

Overseas, Where The Wild Things Are performed poorly, grossing an anemic $22.8M with Warner Bros distributing in most markets.  Village Roadshow distributed in their home country Australia, which was the strongest offshore territory at $5.6 million and the film was sent straight to video in Russia.  The worldwide total was $100M and about $55 million would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross — leaving part of the worldwide P&A costs in the red and the budget wouldn’t be touched from the theatrical receipts.  After nearly three decades to reach the screen, Where The Wild Things Are ended as one of the biggest commercial disasters.

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