- Directed By: George Gallo
- Written By: George Gallo, Andy Weiss
- Release Date: August 6, 2010
- Domestic Distributor: Paramount Vantage
- Cast: Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, James Caan
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $21.5 million||Financed by: Christopher Mallick|
|Domestic Gross: $754,301||Overseas Gross: $0|
Middle Men was a vanity project of epic ego proportions for Christopher Mallick, who financed the project about HIMSELF! As one of the pioneers of the online porn business, Middle Men chronicles the rise and fall of his story — but in this alternate universe, he’s a man with a moral compass. Back in reality, when Mallick was developing Middle Men, he stole from his own company ePassporte (a payment card system mostly used for online porn) to fund part of the film. The budget for Middle Men was $21.5 million.
Production wrapped in late 2008 and the film premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival in May. The movie was entertaining enough sleaze and landed lukewarm reviews, but the picture left without a buyer. In February 2010, Paramount acquired the rights to Middle Men for no money and Mallick would pay for the P&A expenses. Mallick would receive 87.5% of the theatrical revenue and 80% of all non-theatrical revenue. He gave Paramount $6.8 million for P&A and the studio put the film out through their Paramount Vantage division.
Along with the traditional ad spend, Christopher Mallick spent more money to make sure the picture had a heavy advertising presence on porn sites, where the trailer was viewed over 30 million times. Paramount planned on opening the movie in limited release on August 6, 2010 and then a location expansion to about 2,000 theaters on August 20. It was booked into 252 theaters and landed in a commercial dead zone — it was too under the radar for the multiplex crowd and most certainly not an arthouse movie. It pulled in a terrible $325,641 with a $1,292 per screen average. It remained in 252 theaters for its second frame and Paramount’s plans to expand the film were scrapped after Middle Men sank a huge 70.5% to $96,198. It was promptly pulled from all but 16 locations and quickly vanished with only $754,301.
Just one month after the movie bombed and Mallick lost almost his entire investment, Visa cut off ePassporte and the company shuttered. He found himself facing a $12 million judgement a few years later, when the embezzlement trail involving Middle Men funds led back to Mallick.
Middle Men went straight to video overseas in the few countries it found distribution. In September 2016, Mallick sued Paramount, claiming they botched the theatrical release and owed him money from ancillary sales to streaming platforms and TV. You can read the lawsuit here.