- Directed By: John Crowley
- Written By: Peter Straughan
- Release Date: September 13, 2019
- Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
- Cast: Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Finn Wolfhard
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $44 million||Financed by: Warner Bros; Amazon Studios|
|Domestic Box Office: $5,332,621||Overseas Box Office: Still in release|
In May 2013, before the publication of The Goldfinch in September 2013, Nina Jacobson’s production outfit Color Force was sent a manuscript of the novel, as her company had helped shepherd the book to screen franchises The Hunger Games and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Color Force decided to take on the prestige book and basically became an intermediary between the publishers and studios. They began to develop the project and would eventually shop the rights to studios. The book was huge hit and won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and on July 28, 2014 Warner Bros and RatPac optioned the rights.
As development continued at Color Force, they were considering turning the nearly 800 page book into a mini-series, but WB thought the material would translate well to the big screen. Even though WB execs were enthusiastic about The Goldfinch, budget negotiations in 2016 nearly derailed the project. To keep The Goldfinch from falling apart, a co-financing idea was floated by the WB brass, where they would give the on-demand rights to a streaming service instead of their corporate sibling HBO.
Over the course of nearly a year, an arrangement was brokered between WB and Amazon Studios. The budget for The Goldfinch was $44 million after tax rebates, with the majority of the production expenses covered by Warner Bros and Amazon Studios invested 30% for the streaming video-on-demand rights. WB would handle global theatrical distribution. WB slate co-financier RatPac was also set to invest into The Goldfinch but in late 2017 RatPac head Brett Ratner was accused of numerous allegations of sexual assault and his company was dropped from the project.
WB dated The Goldfinch for September 13, 2019 and decided to premiere the picture a few days earlier at the Toronto International Film Festival. There was little buzz surrounding the prestige film and any hopes the movie had at commercial success ended when it landed dreadful reviews. A self aggrandizing trailer that screamed ‘important serious movie’ certainly did not help.
WB did support The Goldfinch with a solid marketing campaign and spent $13.64 million on TV ads (as per iSpotTV) — and after other distribution expenses and promotional costs, the domestic P&A was at least $35M. It bowed against another rare movies these days targeting adults Hustlers, which unlike this picture landed strong reviews.
The Goldfinch was dead on arrival with $2,679,027 — placing #8 for the weekend led by WB’s holdover It: Chapter Two. It was the 6th worst opening ever for a movie released in over 2,500 theaters. After the opening numbers came in, Jeff Goldstein, WB president of domestic distribution said “I think the audience wasn’t interested in seeing this literary work on-screen.” Well, obviously. The Goldfinch plummeted 71.6% to $760,014 in its second frame and the domestic run closed with $5,332,621.
Overseas markets are set to open throughout October, though it’s unlikely after the poor stateside response that WB would waste much more capital on this stinker with a big ad push. The Goldfinch has opened in 13 markets and has pulled in just under $1M. More as the offshore numbers come in…
As the studios have been swallowed whole by larger and larger conglomerates, the mid-budget adult movie has become an endangered species. It’s a shame those limited resources allotted to these pictures were wasted on an Oscar bait fiasco.