The Fifth Estate

  • The Fifth Estate box office
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    [Total: 3 Average: 2.3]
  • Directed By: Bill Condon
  • Written By: Josh Singer
  • Release Date: October 18, 2013
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney (Touchstone)
  • Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Alicia Vikander

Box Office Info:
Budget: $28 million Financed by: DreamWorks; Participant Media
Domestic Box Office: $3,225,008 Overseas Box Office: $5,804,000

“It’s a movie that really failed at the box office.”
Director Bill Condon

DreamWorks began development on The Fifth Estate in March 2011, when the studio purchased the books WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy and Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website.   The budget for The Fifth Estate was $28 million and this project was co-financed by DreamWorks and Participant Media, which is run by Ebay founder Jeff Skoll, with focus on activism and social issues through film.  Disney handled domestic distribution, as per their distribution pact with DreamWorks.  Actor Benedict Cumberbatch set up a line of communication with Assange, who asked him not go forward with the movie, which he considered a propaganda hit piece.  Assange posted his letter to Cumberbatch on Wikileaks.

The Fifth Estate was first dated for November 15 and then moved up to October 11 and then pushed back a week to October 18.  The film landed the opening night slot at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and had strong buzz as an awards hopeful.  Mixed to poor reviews killed off any chance of accolades and along with a built in controversy about the the subject matter, there was very low pre-release tracking.  With the diminished commercial prospects, Wikileaks continued to rail against the movie, as irresponsible and fabricated.

It bowed against the Carrie remake and Escape Plan and was not expected to reach $5 million by the end of its first weekend.  The Fifth Estate was dead on arrival with $1,673,351 with a dreadful per screen average of $946.  It placed #8 for the weekend led by Gravity in its third session.  The pic tumbled 65.9% in its second weekend to $570,890 and promptly lost most of its theater count and ended its terrible run with only $3,225,008.  About $1.7 million would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which barely puts a dent in the P&A expenses and leaves the budget at a loss.

Overseas, the film did awful in every market, accumulating only $5.8 million across multiple distributors.  Entertainment One distributed in the UK  and saw $1,617,475 which posted the highest numbers for the offshore release.  The Fifth Estate was yet another setback for DreamWorks, which reduced its output in 2013 to only this film and the underperforming Delivery Man.

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