- Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
- Written By: Rebecca Blunt
- Release Date: August 18, 2017
- Domestic Distributor: Fingerprint Releasing (through Bleeker Street)
- Cast: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Adam Driver
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $29 million||Financed by: N/A|
|Domestic Gross: $27,780,977||Overseas Gross: $20,672,628|
After years of being fed up with the studio system, Steven Soderbergh helmed Logan Lucky independently and self distributed the picture. FilmNation was tapped to handle pre-sales, which kicked off at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival and also landed major deals at Cannes in May. The budget for Logan Lucky was $29 million and the cast worked for scale (with backend points) and the production was paid for in full from global pre-sales. Soderbergh went the self distribution route to cap the amount of money spent on marketing and use the funds more responsibly to target their potential audience. After helming (and co-financing) the inexpensive $6.5 million budgeted Magic Mike, which went on to gross $113.7 million in the US, very little money went back to Soderbergh since the studio spent over $40 million to market the picture. He opted to avoid renting a studio’s distribution arm on this project, because he did not expect to land a payday if $40 million was spent on marketing Logan Lucky and 15% of theatrical receipts went to the studio as a fee. Soderbergh launched Fingerprint Releasing to distribute Logan Lucky domestically.
The director first tried to broker a deal with NATO (no, not the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the National Association of Theatre Owners to bypass the traditional distribution model and release the movie directly with theater chains. However, federal antitrust laws prevented that and Soderbergh went in search of a rent-a-distributor. He hired the former Warner Bros president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman, who now runs a distribution consulting business, to map out the logistics of getting Logan Lucky into wide release. They secured $20 million to market Logan Lucky by selling off all post-theatrical rights — which included major deals from Amazon for streaming and Universal for all other home entertainment markets. A deal for under $1 million was set with the relatively new distributor Bleeker Street, to handle distribution duties. Bleeker Street would have no money at stake in Logan Lucky and would receive additional payouts if the movie reached certain box office numbers. They also had the right to distribute any Logan Lucky sequels if the release was successful.
For the cast and certain crew members that had a backend deal, Soderbergh wanted to remain as transparent as possible (unlike the shady accounting usually done industry wide) and setup a website that they could log into and track the cash flow back to Fingerprint Releasing.
Soderbergh also retained complete control over the marketing and the rate at which the $20 million would be spent. He wanted to save the bulk of ad spend until about one week before the picture would open. Also the the majority of the spend was targeted in the south and the midwest. Logan Lucky was dated for the slow end of summer frame on August 18 and bowed against The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Bleeker was successfully able to secure 3,031 theaters.
While there has been much hyperbole from the trades and other outlets about how the release strategy is a “game changer” — this is just distributing a movie independently, but unlike most indie releases, this one was backed by a solid $20 million in marketing. It’s been done for decades folks. The only thing new is additional ancillary markets to sell off (like Amazon Prime streaming) to mitigate risk.
As the release date approached and the marketing amped up, the reviews came in and were strong. The bar was set at $15 million for a successful opening, but tracking was pointing to a high single digit weekend. Logan Lucky disappointed with just $7,600,036 — placing #3 for the frame led by The Hitman’s Bodyguard. The target audience in the south and midwest, where most of the marketing budget was spent, did not show up and the strongest showings were coastal — which had over indexed based off of the reviews. Soderbergh called the opening “certainly frustrating” and hoped to figure out what went wrong on Logan Lucky so Fingerprint would not botch future releases. The film declined 44.2% the following weekend to $4,241,548 and then saw a 4% uptick in business over the Labor Day holiday frame to $4,410,186. Logan Lucky then plummeted 62.1% in its fourth session to $1,669,875 and the domestic run closed with $27,780,977. After theaters take their percentage of the gross, at least $7 million of marketing money would be in the red. While this was completely paid for by the ancillary sales, there would be no major payday for those with stake in the backend.
According to Soderbergh, overseas distributors were alarmed after viewing the film at just how culturally American Logan Lucky was and had doubts at its international appeal. Their concerns had some validity as the offshore cume stalled at $20.6M across many distributors — with $4.3M from the UK as the highest gross.