- Directed By: Alexander Payne
- Written By: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
- Release Date: December 22, 2017
- Domestic Distributor: Paramount
- Cast: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $68 million||Financed by: Paramount|
|Domestic Gross: $24,449,754||Overseas Gross: $30,554,136|
Alexander Payne and his writing partner Jim Taylor (Election, Sideways) began working on the Downsizing screenplay in the mid-2000s and eventually presented an early draft to FOX in 2009, with a $100 million price tag attached to the project. The studio passed. Payne then helmed The Descendants (2011) and Nebraska (2013), before landing financing for Downsizing in late 2014 from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. The movie’s budget was trimmed to about $75 million. Matt Damon was set to star in Manchester by the Sea when he received the offer to take the lead in Downsizing and he dropped out of Manchester for this.
To help offset their risk on Downsizing, Annapurna got Paramount to co-finance with them. As the picture was quickly moving forward, Megan Ellison stopped returning all calls from (now deceased) Paramount head Brad Grey — which is certainly one way how to end a business deal. The sudden loss of Annapurna stalled development, which made Damon dropping out of Manchester pointless — though he did land an Oscar nom for remaining on as producer.
In late 2015, Brad Grey eventually decided to greenlight the picture and the budget for Downsizing was $68 million with Paramount footing the entire bill. Production began in April 2016 for 70 days and Payne was awarded the luxury to take about one full year in the editing room. Paramount had both commercial and awards hope for Downsizing and it landed the prestigious slot as the opening night movie, in competition, at the Venice Film Festival — which is the launching pad for the industry’s award season. Paramount also premiered their two other award hopefuls mother! and Suburbicon (also starring Damon) at Venice, both of which received a coveted competition slot. Downsizing received a positive response at the festival, mother! divided auds and Suburbicon was a complete dud. After riding the great buzz from Venice, Downsizing screened at the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival a few days later and it was mostly met with indifference. The awards buzz was then muted for the pic.
Paramount dated Downsizing for December 22 as their major holiday release and in the meantime, the Damon vehicle Suburbicon was a box office disaster not even two months earlier. Paramount invested into an expensive marketing spend, with $15.94 million spent on TV ads (as per iSpotTV) going into release and millions more after release. After other traditional means of P&A expenses, the US marketing/distribution costs were far north of $35 million.
Reviews were mixed and the film bowed into a very competitive Christmas market against Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Pitch Perfect 3, The Greatest Showman, Father Figures and the modest nationwide expansions of Darkest Hour and The Shape Of Water. Tracking was pointing to a 4-day holiday opening between $10 – $12 million, but it pulled in a troubling $7,670,130 — placing #7 for the frame led by holdover Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The 3-day cume was $4,954,287 and auds hated the movie, giving it a toxic C cinemascore. Downsizing posted a small 5.1% decline over the New Year’s session to $4,702,309 but then sank 53.2% to $2,202,311 in its third weekend and promptly lost most of its theater count. The domestic run closed with a terrible $24,449,754.
Downsizing didn’t fare any better in its overseas release and cumed $30.5 million. The worldwide gross was $55 million and Paramount would see returned about $30.2M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not even cover half of their global P&A expenses.