- Directed By: Adam McKay
- Written By: Adam McKay
- Release Date: December 25, 2018
- Domestic Distributor: Annapurna
- Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $60 million||Financed by: Annapurna|
|Domestic Gross: Still in release||Overseas Gross: Still in release|
It was announced in November 2016 that Adam McKay would helm Vice as his follow up project to his 2015 critical and commercial hit The Big Short. Brad Pitt’s Plan B produced and packaged the picture at Paramount, which had also handled the release for The Big Short, but the studio put Vice into turnaround after concerns about the large budget. In May 2017, Plan B landed a three year deal at Annapurna, with the mini-major committing to release three of their movies per year. Vice and If Beale Street Could Talk were the first two projects to emerge from the new arrangement.
Vice was financed by Annapurna with a very ambitious $60 million budget and international pre-sales to distributors covered the majority of the production expenses. Vice was positioned as a major awards player and dated for the Christmas frame. Most award type pictures usually premiere early during the fall festival rounds to build hype, but McKay was still tinkering with the edit into the fall and Vice skipped the festival circuit.
Shortly before the release, the fledgling distributor had numerous shake ups in their executive ranks and in October Annapurna dropped two projects about to enter production — Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes movie and the Jennifer Lopez starrer Hustlers, which led to wide speculation that there was a serious cash-flow problem at the company. Annapurna had hemorrhaged tens of millions in capital from a series of flops. Their first movie as a fully functional distributor was the commercial disaster Detroit and that followed with two under the radar movies Brad’s Status and Professor Marston & The Wonder Women. They landed a very minor money maker, ironically on the acclaimed anti-capitalist satire Sorry to Bother You, but then botched the release of The Sisters Brothers.
Annapurna had much riding on Vice, but even with strong award buzz surrounding the movie, its commercial prospects were limited. Christian Bale had been unreliable at the box office and as mainstream cinema had become more corporate and toothless, politicised adult fare like this had been relegated to mostly TV/streaming or arthouse/VOD releases. Adding to its lack of broad appeal was the subject of the movie himself, as Cheney was not so much a divisive figure as a hated one. It was unlikely a vicious comedy about a bureaucratic ghoul would reach blockbuster box office numbers, but Vice simply cost too much money to realistically ever break even. If given a more responsible sub-$40M budget, Vice would have likely recouped its expenses.
Vice opened on the 25th and the big budget tentpole competition got a head start on the 21st: Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee. The trainwreck Welcome to Marwen also opened on the 21st, as did Second Act. The only other opener on Christmas Day was the turkey Holmes and Watson. Reviews were lukewarm, which was expected with material like this — though both the very positive and extremely negative reviews came from all sides of the political spectrum. Annapurna also strongly backed the picture with a strong marketing and awards campaign that was estimated in the $35M – $40M range.
Vice opened with a so-so $7,768,371 and a 6-day holiday frame total of $17,674,487 — placing #6 at the box office which was led by Aquaman. Auds gave the movie a toxic C+ Cinemascore but Vice held on during its second frame, dipping 26.2% to $5,734,509. The movie managed to stay alive in the marketplace until the Oscar nominations were announced and it had pulled in about $40M when it landed 8 nominations including Best Picture. Vice was expected to see a surge in business the weekend after the nominations (Jan 25), but its play was mostly tapped out. It added just $1,850,909 and continued to struggle, despite the accolades and looks to flame out with a disappointing $47M — turning this into yet another mid-budget adult picture that was ignored upon release by its target demo. Annapurna would see returned about $26M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not cover P&A expenses or any of their exposure to the budget. More after the run ends…
Vice has mostly concluded its international run and has posted mostly poor numbers. The current offshore cume stands at $24.7M. Japan and South Korea open in April. More after the international run ends…