The Watch

  • The Watch box office
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    [Total: 9 Average: 2.3]
  • Directed By: Akiva Schaffer
  • Written By: Jared Stern, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
  • Release Date: July 27, 2012
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade

Box Office Info:
Budget: $68 millionFinanced by: FOX; Dune Entertainment
Domestic Gross: $35,353,000Overseas Gross: $32,914,862

the watch 2012
Back in 2008, FOX had just released the huge box office flop Meet Dave and Co-Chairman Tom Rothman had the sci-fi premise purged from the marketing material, believing sci-fi and comedy are a disastrous box office combination.  A few months later, the sci-fi comedy script of The Watch was pitched and quickly began development at FOX — though its eventual commercial failure had little to do with sci-fi, but more with its lame comedy.

Shawn Levy was the first director attached to the project, which was originally titled Neighborhood Watch.  He eventually pulled out as director, but remained as a producer.  David Dobkin replaced Levy and Will Ferrell began talks to topline the cast.  Both Dobkin and Ferrell exited the project in summer 2009.  Peter Segal briefly circled The Watch to direct, but that also never materialized.  It moved forward in 2011 with Akiva Schaffer in the director’s chair.

The budget for The Watch $68 million and FOX financed and received some capital from Dune Entertainment, which invests into the studio’s slate of movies.   Considering the amount of product placement on display, The Watch should have practically been paid for.  Part alien invasion tale, part male bonding comedy, part Costco commercial, The Watch just never clicked with audiences during its expensive marketing spend.  The original title of Neighborhood Watch was also changed two months before release, to avoid any association with the tragic Trayvon Martin killing by the neighborhood watch goon George Zimmerman.

The Watch was dated for July 27 and tracking was coming in soft with an opening in the low to mid teens.  The Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting spree the weekend before also depressed attendance.  Harkins theater chain also refused to show the film after being unable to come to terms with exhibition fees with FOX.  The Watch bowed against Step Up Revolution and reviews were awful.  It came in lower than expected with $12,750,297 — placing #3 for the weekend led by The Dark Knight Rises.  Audiences gave The Watch a terrible C+ cinemascore and the pic saw a 48.8% second weekend decline to $6,527,915 killing its chances at breaking out.  The Watch fell 66% in its third frame to $2,221,451 and promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with $35,353,000.

FOX put the film out overseas to a poor $32.9 million, with a soft $6 million from the UK as the strongest market.  The worldwide total was $68.2 million and FOX would see returned about $37.5 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not cover P&A expenses and the theatrical receipts would leave the budget in the red.

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