Ender's Game

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  • Directed By: Gavin Hood
  • Written By: Gavin Hood
  • Release Date: November 1, 2013
  • Domestic Distributor: Lionsgate
  • Cast: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley

Box Office Info:
Budget: $110 million Financed by: OddLot; Summit; K/O Paper Products; Digital Domain
Domestic Box Office: $61,737,191 Overseas Box Office: $63,800,000

The budget for Ender’s Game was $110 million and it was majority financed by OddLot, Summit contributed about 20% of the capital, K/O Paper Products and the visual effects company Digital Domain rounded out the backers.  Sierra/Affinity handled pre-sales at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for the expensive big screen version of the novel, which was pitched to buyers as the start of a major franchise.

Troubled visual effects company Digital Domain, which was going through the process of bankruptcy protection from creditors, made the unwise decision to invest $17 million into the production of Ender’s Game, as well as provide the visual effects for a large piece of the film’s backend.  A huge risk assessment for the cash strapped company that was relying on not only the box office success of the film, but that it would spawn a franchise that would continue to pump millions back into the company for years.  Obviously that didn’t happen.

Summit was set to distribute the picture stateside, but the company was acquired by Lionsgate in 2012, which released the film.  Ender’s Game was first dated for March 15 but then pushed back to November 1.  In the months leading to the film’s release, there was tons of free negative publicity and cries to boycott the film, courtesy of the book’s author Orson Scott Card’s homophobic ranting and raving.  The filmmakers and studio not only had to distance themselves from Card, but issue press releases that informed the public he had no stake in the movie’s backend — so moviegoers could buy a ticket with a clear conscience.

Ender’s Game received mixed reviews and was tracking for an opening in the high twenty millions.  It bowed against the geezer targeting Last Vegas and Free Birds and came within expectations at $27,017,351 — placing #1 for the weekend.  Ender’s Game proved to be incredibly front loaded and collapsed 62% in its second weekend to $10,259,188 — when Thor: The Dark World took most of the market to itself.  It held on in its third frame, declining 41.3% to $6,017,337 but then sank 67.1% in its fourth session, when Lionsgate’s behemoth The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released.  The domestic run closed with a less than blockbuster $61,737,191.  Lionsgate would see returned about $33.9 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would cover most of their P&A expenses.

Overseas, Ender’s Game fared poorly, with $63.8 million across many distributors and $22.7 million of that gross, came from China.  Bad news for Digital Domain, who has since been sold off to Hong Kong based Sun Innovation.

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