Hunter Killer

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    [Total: 39 Average: 2.5]
  • Directed By: Donovan Marsh
  • Written By: Arne Schmidt, Jamie Moss
  • Release Date: October 26, 2018
  • Domestic Distributor: Lionsgate
  • Cast: Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common

Box Office Info:
Budget: $40 millionFinanced by: Millennium Films; Hishow Entertainment
Domestic Gross: $15,767,460Overseas Gross: $15,905,218


Hunter Killer had a long 10 year journey to the big screen, which started in September 2008 when Relativity purchased the spec script from Arne Schmidt.  Producer Neal Moritz co-optioned the rights in 2009 and extended that option again in 2013.  The project began to inch forward in February 2011, when Phillip Noyce was tapped to direct, but he bailed on Hunter Killer in August because he felt the material was too thematically similar to his films Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994).  Antoine Fuqua boarded as director in September and Gerard Butler was attached in the lead role, but Hunter Killer was pushed aside so both Fuqua and Butler could collaborate on Olympus Has Fallen (2013).  McG was brought in to fill Fuqua’s vacancy in May 2013, but once again, the project stalled.  In September 2014 Martin Campbell signed onto direct.  Campbell was in development on the Jackie Chan vehicle The Foreigner, which he left to helm Hunter Killer, but when Relativity began their quick descent toward bankruptcy in 2015, he went back to direct The Foreigner.

The Hunter Killer property became tangled in Relativity’s Chapter 11 reorganization and Neal Moritz sued the struggling mini-major, claiming the money he paid for the option was “fraudulently induced” since Relativity did not have the capital needed to actually make and distribute the picture.  He tried to get the asset away from the reorganization mess and set Hunter Killer up at another financier.  After two months in the courts, Moritz and Relativity settled — Millennium Films was brought in to co-finance the movie and Relativity would handle domestic distribution and Millennium would take international rights.  As part of the court agreement, Relativity had to invest $8M into the production no later than May 31, 2016 and they were also responsible for $25M minimum in P&A costs.

When Relativity presented their reorganization plan to Judge Michael Wiles, they predicted $124.3 million in revenue over Hunter Killer‘s lifetime.  In a rational world, that should have been laughed out of court and the company set for liquidation, but Judge Wiles approved all of Relativity’s over the top revenue predictions for all of their potential projects.  As the May 31st deadline came and went, Relativity did not pay.

Millennium then took control over the film’s finances but Relativity remained attached to the project in a producer capacity.  Once Relativity released Masterminds in September 2016 and the movie tanked, their finances were drained and they were no longer a functional studio.

The budget for Hunter Killer was $40 million and it was financed by Millennium.   In February 2017, they took the project for sales to the European Film Market in Berlin and the China based Hishow Entertainment invested $10M into two Millennium movies — Hunter Killer and a Pablo Escobar project.  In March 2018, Lionsgate acquired domestic rights for $4M and dated it for October 26, 2018.

After the years long effort to get the movie into production, Hunter Killer was thrown into the marketplace with little care.  Lionsgate invested just $7.86M into TV ads (as per iSpotTV), with a P&A spend estimated near $20M.  Reviews were terrible, buzz was low and tracking was pointing to a small $5 – $9M opening.  Hunter Killer opened in the shadow of Halloween and was dead on arrival with $6,653,777 — placing #5 for the weekend led by Halloween.  It declined 47% the following frame to $3,528,129 and closed its stateside run with a terrible $15,767,460.  Lionsgate would see returned about $8.6M after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

Hunter Killer tanked overseas as well and the reported offshore cume was only $15.9M.

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