Silence

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  • Directed By: Martin Scorsese
  • Written By: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese, Shûsaku Endô
  • Release Date: December 23, 2016
  • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
  • Cast: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson

Box Office Info:
Budget: $46.5 millionFinanced by: Fábrica de Cine; SharpSword Films; Emmett/Furla; IM Global
Domestic Gross: $7,100,177Overseas Gross: $16,637,346


Martin Scorsese’s decades long passion project Silence had numerous financiers and producers come and go over the years and even a lawsuit against Scorsese in 2012 for not getting the film off the ground.  Producer Cecchi Gori inked a deal with the director in the 90s, where Silence would be his follow up feature to Kundun (1997), but it was perpetually postponed.  After announcing that he would direct The Wolf Of Wall Street, Gori filed his suit against the director, claiming he wasted over $750,000 in early development costs.  The suit was settled in 2014 and no details have been released, but Gori was a credited producer on the film.

The project began to actively move forward in 2013 and Graham King was the last piece of baggage attached to Silence‘s long history of rights holders and early investors.  King held the rights and was a lead investor in most Scorsese productions, until he lost nearly $80 million on Hugo and the director and producer severed their relationship.  King eventually sold back the rights.

Randall Emmett of Emmett/Furla was hired to help organize the financing and the plan was to introduce the project at Cannes in 2013 for pre-sales.  There was such strong interest in Silence from distributors, that even before the Cannes marketplace, $21 million was secured in sales.  IM Global handled the pre-sales at Cannes, which brokered strong deals in most territories.  In the summer of 2014, Paramount acquired domestic distribution.

In 2013, there were numerous investors and companies funding the picture, but by the time Silence was going to begin photography, some had dropped out and minority investors Fábrica de Cine and SharpSword Films, became majority investors.  Additional funding came from Emmett/Furla and IM Global.  The budget for Silence was $46.5 million.

Paramount dated Silence for an awards qualifying run on December 23, 2016.  It was booked into four locations and pulled in $130,880 with a decent $32,720 per screen average.  The studio planned on a January 13, 2017 expansion to most markets and hoped word of mouth would carry the picture, as it would add additional locations the next weekend.  Reviews were strong for Silence, but the non-commercial project struggled in its expansion with general audiences.

On the 13th, Paramount increased the theater count to 747 and it bowed against The Bye Bye Man, Sleepless, Monster Trucks (also Paramount) and the wide expansions of other Oscar hopefuls Patriots Day and Live By Night.  Silence pulled in a troubling $1,984,530 — placing #16 for the weekend.  Silence expanded to 1,580 locations the following weekend with diminishing returns, pulling in just $1,166,271.  After the poor weekend numbers posted, the Academy Award nominations were announced and Silence was only recognized for Cinematography.  It was promptly pulled from most theaters and closed its domestic run with a terrible $7,100,177.  Paramount would see returned about $3.9 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which barely dents the P&A expenses.

Silence was also a non-performer for the many international distributors that picked up the title. The reported offshore cume was $16,637,346 with Japan posting the highest numbers at $4.6 million.

2 Comments

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  1. This movie definitely had a lot of attention to detail put into it. However it’s not quite a religious movie, nor an effective period piece about Japan. Nor is it a film that would draw in major audiences. In short, I’m not sure who this film was made for.

    • Exactly. Scorsese basically made a pointless movie in a cultural vacuum. Beautifully directed, shot, and edited stuff, purporting to be “about” profound issues like faith and oppression… I can’t even remember much from it, and I had had an espresso beforehand and really paid attention. But he certainly came back with a vengeance with “Wolf of Wall Street”. Now THAT is a movie that clearly has a point.

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