Oldboy

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  • Directed By: Spike Lee
  • Written By: Mark Protosevich
  • Release Date: November 27, 2013
  • Domestic Distributor: FilmDistrict
  • Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley

Box Office Info:
Budget: $20.1 millionFinanced by: Good Universe; Vertigo Entertainment
Domestic Box Office: $2,193,658Overseas Box Office: $2,667,364

“My worst experience ever, and I’ve been making films since 1986, was “Oldboy.” That is not the film — the film Josh Brolin and I made? That didn’t make it to the theaters. And that’s the first time I’ve said this publicly. It was not a good experience.”
–Spike Lee


The Oldboy remake was developed by the newly formed Good Universe, which was founded by former Lionsgate president, Joe Drake and former Mandate Pictures president Nathan Kahane.  Additional financing came from Vertigo Entertainment.  Good Universe also handled pre-sales, which kicked off at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and Oldboy and Last Vegas were their first projects.  The remake sold well, with Universal Pictures International landing rights for the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Australia and Spain.  The strong pre-sales covered much of the expenses.  The gross budget for Oldboy was $25,815,745 and after a $5,615,939 tax credit from Louisiana, the net budget was $20.1 million.

Spike Lee’s remake of the acclaimed Korean picture was trimmed by about an hour after his cut was submitted and to remove even more time from the running length, an edit was added to the film’s centerpiece fight scene which was filmed as an unbroken shot.  Even though Oldboy was butchered in post-production, this was the sort of misguided remake which could never reach the deranged spectacle of the original.  It’s a project that was a turn off for fans of the original and sold to the masses as a run of the mill revenge flick.

FilmDistrict acquired US rights and first slated the movie for a wide release on October 11 and then pushed it back to Oct 25.  Oldboy was then shifted back to the crowded Thanksgiving frame and the cash strapped FilmDistrict announced in early October they would shutter and be folded into Focus Features — Oldboy being the studio’s last release before they closed their doors.

FilmDistrict clearly had no faith in the film, with blink and you miss it marketing and they dumped Oldboy into 583 theaters.  It bowed against Frozen, Homefront, Black Nativity and the wide expansion of The Book Thief.  Oldboy was dead on arrival with $885,382 — placing #18 at the box office.  The pic sank 66% in its second frame to $301,455 and then promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed after only five weeks with $2,193,658.

The overseas numbers were an embarrassing $2,667,364 losing money for every distributor that picked up the ‘hot’ title during pre-sales.

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