Red Dawn

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  • Directed By: Dan Bradley
  • Written By: Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore
  • Release Date: November 21, 2012
  • Domestic Distributor: FilmDistrict
  • Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson

Box Office Info:
Budget: $45 millionFinanced by: MGM
Domestic Box Office: $44,806,783Overseas Box Office: $6,144,000


The remake of Red Dawn began development during the short MGM era of Mary Parent, Chairman of the Motion Picture Group and Co-CEO.  Mary Parent entered the mess that was MGM in March 2008, which was crippled by $3.7 billion in debt, massive interest payments, a looming bankruptcy and a small equity fund that kept the studio running on fumes.  That fund bankrolled the slate of pictures under Parent, of which only four movies made it into production before MGM’s financial woes sent the others into turnaround.  Hot Tub Time Machine, Red Dawn, Zookeeper and The Cabin The Woods materialized and remakes of popular MGM titles RoboCop and Poltergeist were sent into turnaround — as were a Three Stooges movie and other projects.  MGM announced Red Dawn to international buyers at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, with FilmNation handling sales.  Parent left the barely functional studio in October 2010.

The gross budget for the remake of Red Dawn was $54 million and the net budget was $45 million after tax rebates.  MGM financed.   Red Dawn was completed just around the time when MGM went into bankruptcy reorganization in 2010, but a release was still planned for that year.  MGM did have the funds to distribute Hot Tub Time Machine, which returned modest business and Sony handled Zookeeper, but Hot Tub ended up being the final MGM release.

Red Dawn and The Cabin In The Woods were put back onto the market for a domestic buyer.  All of the majors passed on distributing Red Dawn and it sat on a shelf collecting dust and high interest costs for nearly three years.  It was also contingent that Red Dawn be released in the domestic market first, so the many overseas distributors that picked up the rights, had to sit on the movie until it landed US distribution.  In 2010, MGM digitally changed the movie’s villains from Chinese to North Korean, by switching flags and other insignia and in late 2011 FilmDistrict acquired US rights.

FilmDistrict first dated Red Dawn for November 2, 2012 and partnered with the newly formed distribution company Open Road (joint partnership between theater chains Regal and AMC) to handle distribution logistics.  It was then shifted to the Thanksgiving frame and FilmDistrict launched a screening program on over 100 military bases to help spread word of mouth and they also targeted college campuses.

Red Dawn bowed against Rise Of The Guardians and Life Of Pi and received awful reviews.  It opened within its modest expectations at $14,276,668 — placing #7 for the holiday led by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 in its second weekend.  Red Dawn sank 54.5% to $6,500,245 in its second frame and held on its third session, declining 34.8% to $4,236,105.  The domestic run closed with $44,806,783.  FilmDistrict would see returned about $24.6 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would likely cover their modest P&A expenses.

Red Dawn over indexed in Texas and a few southern states and the jingoistic theme had practically no appeal outside of the US, let alone in parts of America.  It grossed just $6,144,000 across many distributors and went straight to video in Italy and premiered on TV in Spain.

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