The Big Year

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  • Directed By: David Frankel
  • Written By: Howard Franklin
  • Release Date: October 14, 2011
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson

Box Office Info:
Budget: $28 millionFinanced by: FOX; Dune Entertainment
Domestic Box Office: $7,204,138Overseas Box Office: $975,278

“My career low? God, there’s been a few lately. What’s the lowest of the low? I guess my career nadir was probably that bird watching movie [The Big Year] that came out a couple months ago. I know it was good but, career-wise, when no one goes to see a movie that you’re in with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, that’s when you gotta feel pretty bad. Although I could blame it on Steve Martin.”
–Jack Black

the big year 2011 film
DreamWorks optioned the rights to the soon to be book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession in June 2002, when it was still in manuscript form.  The book was published in early 2004, but the project never materialized and DreamWorks eventually optioned the movie rights to FOX in 2009 — where it quickly moved forward.  The budget for The Big Year was $28 million after tax rebates and it was financed by FOX and Dune Entertainment.

The Big Year was dated for October 14, 2011 and the studio had no idea had to sell a PG rated bird watching comedy that skewed toward adult audiences.  The trailer barely hinted at the premise and TV spots hid the bird watching plot, leaving the picture with no audience hook.  The movie was tracking for disaster.  It bowed against Footloose and The Thing and landed mixed reviews.

FOX partnered with environmental group The National Audubon Society, to help promote the film.  Audubon spent six figures promoting The Big Year to their members and told Variety, “We can reach 4 million to 5 million people (among) our members, our magazine readers and people who come to our (400) chapters and educational centers.”  They might have reached their members, but nobody showed up opening weekend when the film bombed with just $3,251,884 in 2,150 theaters — placing #9 for the weekend led by the holdover Real Steel.  The domestic run ended with a disastrous $7,204,138.

FOX dumped The Big Year overseas, where it pulled in only $975,278.  The worldwide gross was $8.1M.  FOX would see returned about $4.4M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which barely dents just the P&A expenses.

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