Roman J. Israel, Esq.
- Directed By: Dan Gilroy
- Written By: Dan Gilroy
- Release Date: November 17, 2017
- Domestic Distributor: Sony
- Cast: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $22 million||Financed by: Cross Creek, Macro, Lone Star Capital, Topic, Bron; Image Nation Content Fund|
|Domestic Gross: $11,962,778||Overseas Gross: $1,059,726|
The spec script for Roman J. Israel, Esq. (formally titled Inner City) went onto the market at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival for buyers and the hot project landed distribution in most markets by Sony and multiple financiers boarded. Funding came from Cross Creek, Macro, Lone Star Capital, First Look Media’s Topic, Bron and the Image Nation Content Fund — which Roman J. Israel, Esq. was the first project given an investment from a $300M fund by China’s government-backed Intercontinental Communication Center and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The budget for Roman J. Israel, Esq. was a modest $22 million after rebates.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, one year after it was packaged at TIFF. There was strong awards buzz surrounding the picture, but the movie was a mess and despite acclaim for Denzel Washington’s performance, it was met with mixed reviews. After the muted reception writer/director Dan Gilroy excised 12 minutes from the movie and changed the order of numerous scenes — but the final edit was still received as a good performance surrounded by a weak and meandering narrative.
Sony dated Roman J. Israel, Esq. for a limited release on November 17 and it would expand wide a few days later over the Thanksgiving frame on Wednesday November 22. It was booked into 4 theaters and pulled in $61,999 with a so-so $15,500 per screen average. Sony expanded the picture into 1,669 locations over the holiday and it bowed as counter-programming to Coco. It came in below its modest expectations with just $4,447,070 — placing #9 for the frame led by Coco. Sony expected the movie to leg out and play well into the awards season, where they were going to launch a strong campaign for Washington, but Roman J. Israel, Esq. sank 56% the following weekend to $1,958,702. It fell 55.5% to $871,624 in its third wide session and then promptly lost most of its theater count.
When Denzel Washington landed a Best Actor nomination, it was only playing in two dozen theaters and Sony did not bother to expand or capitalize off of the nomination. The domestic run closed with a poor $11,962,778 — which is the lowest grossing wide release in Denzel Washington’s career as a lead actor. Sony would see returned about $6.5M after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which leaves most of the P&A expenses in the red.
Sony dumped Roman J. Israel, Esq. overseas, where it had a fleeting theatrical release in a few markets to all of $1M.