Won't Back Down

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  • Directed By: Daniel Barnz
  • Written By: Brin Hill, Daniel Barnz
  • Release Date: September 28, 2012
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Oscar Isaac

Box Office Info:
Budget: $19 millionFinanced by: Walden Media
Domestic Box Office: $5,310,554Overseas Box Office: $120,932


The budget for Won’t Back Down was $19 million and it was fully financed by Walden Media.  FOX handled distribution for Walden’s pictures.  Walden’s conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz launched this neoliberal propaganda piece to promote charter schools and take his crusade against unions to the big screen.  Going into release, Won’t Back Down brought boycotts and ire from education unions and teachers.  The picture was heavily promoted, especially through the right-wing Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works and the massive lobbying organization US Chamber of Commerce.  On top of a traditional marketing campaign, these groups spent millions to screen this godawful movie across the nation to promote the privatization of education and spread the horrors of organized labor.

Won’t Back Down was dated for September 28 and bowed against Hotel Transylvania, Looper and Pitch Perfect.  Reviews were poor and it could not shed its ‘issues film’ commercial limitations for general audiences and it was tracking for an opening near $4 million.  FOX booked the pic into 2,515 empty theaters and at the time of release, Won’t Back Down posted the worst opening ever in over 2,500 theaters with $2,603,370 and a per screen average of $1,035 — in 2015 Victor Frankenstein (also FOX) claimed that record.  Won’t Back Down sank 61% in its second frame to $1,016,157 and promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with an awful $5,310,554.  FOX would see returned about $2.9 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which barely dents the P&A expenses.

The film was sent straight to video or to TV in the few territories it found a release and managed a tiny theatrical release a few small markets to $120,932.  The only major market to release Won’t Back Down was the UK, where Disney distributed the the film and dumped it in 10 theaters for one week to $1,163.

One month after Won’t Back Down opened, the Walden financed Chasing Mavericks opened to even worse numbers, but was released in 2,002 theaters — one of the worst numbers for a movie opening in 2,000 theaters.

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