Marmaduke

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  • Directed By: Tom Dey
  • Written By: Tim Rasmussen, Vince Di Meglio
  • Release Date: June 4, 2010
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez

Box Office Info:
Budget: $50 millionFinanced by: FOX; New Regency
Domestic Box Office: $33,644,788Overseas Box Office: $50,117,056

marmaduke 2010
After over half a century of poorly drawn and unfunny comic strips, Marmaduke gets retooled into a poorly made and unfunny movie.  The Marmaduke comic began wasting ink and space in newspapers around the world in 1954 and there had been numerous attempts by producers throughout the years to option it for a theatrical feature.  United Media owned Marmaduke and was very protective of the property and had repeatedly turned down offers to adapt it into a movie.

Producer John Davis had carved himself a successful niche with family talking animal movies like Dr. Dolittle and Garfield and he managed the difficult task of obtaining the rights.  To pitch this stale property to FOX co-chairman Tom Rothman, he placed a Great Dane inside a Mini Cooper, where the very tall dog’s head stuck through the sunroof and he parked the car outside Rothman’s office.  And just like that, this godawful movie was greenlit for $50 million and New Regency co-financed with FOX.

Like most studios, FOX was looking for established branded properties and characters that the public was aware of and while Marmaduke fit that bill, children were largely unaware of it.  And while Davis was chasing the rights to Marmaduke, the comic became widely ridiculed in pop culture as one of the worst newspaper funnies.  With a reputation of being a square relic from the Eisenhower era, there was hardly any goodwill or nostalgia toward the Marmaduke brand that would rub off on the movie.

FOX dated the picture for June 4, 2010 and gave Marmaduke a strong marketing push and a tie-in at Burger King.  Despite the effort, the film was tracking soft and expected to open near $10M.  Marmaduke bowed against Get Him to the Greek, Killers and Splice.  It would also have to compete for family auds with Shrek Forever After, which was released just two weeks earlier.  Reviews were atrocious, but a poor reception had never stopped Marmaduke before and it opened within its muted expectations at $11,599,661 — placing #6 for the weekend led by Shrek.  The following weekend another family pic entered the market The Karate Kid remake and Marmaduke fell 48.2% to $6,006,704.  During its third session, Toy Story 3 opened and Marmaduke plummeted 58.8% to $2,474,195.  The domestic run closed with $33,644,788.

The picture did mediocre business overseas, pulling in $50.1M, but not nearly enough to offset the poor stateside numbers.  The worldwide total was $83.7M.  FOX would see returned about $46M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — leaving at least $25M in global P&A costs in the red and the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.

Around the time of Marmaduke’s release, FOX seemed hellbent on acquiring the crappiest newspaper comics and optioned The Family Circus.  They set that project up with Walden Media, but after the failure of Marmaduke, the public was spared for what would have most likely been the worst movie of whatever year it would be released.

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