Curse of the Jade Scorpion
August 24, 2001
Woody, Woody, Woody. That should just about be enough information for a box-office report on a Woody Allen film. Woody always has big stars in his films, and they always open to less than ten million bucks.
Curse has the cast: Woody himself, Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron and Elizabeth Berkley to name just a few. It has a great distributor in DreamWorks, and Woody is coming off his biggest commercial success, Small-Time Crooks ($3.8 million open). Does this mean good things for Curse? Not at all. Deconstructing Harry had Woody, Billy Crystal, Demi Moore, Tobey Maguire and Robin Williams, and never saw more than 500 screens during its run. That film was released by Fine Line Pictures, so it should be said that screens and marketing have improved by having DreamWorks distribute this film and his last, the aforementioned Small-Time Crooks.
This is a period piece set in the 1940s, starring Woody as an insurance investigator that "gets into the minds" of crooks to solve their crimes. The official site says Hunt plays a cool efficiency expert at Allen's firm. It's a good bet that romance and wacky hijinks ensue.
Woody Allen films do not sell tickets. It is that easy. Let's pretend that word-of-mouth is excellent for Curse, critics call it a sure best-picture candidate, and Jesus himself comes down to give it a recommendation. Will it open above ten? Not likely.
Any Woody Allen picture is proof that more than quality and big stars are needed to open a film. Curse of the Jade Scorpion is probably a fantastic flick, but it looks to fit into the Woody Allen box-office history file. (John Hamann/BOP)
August 6, 2001
Because competition was expected from Captain Corelli's Mandolin, DreamWorks elected to shift Curse of the Jade Scorpion back one week. It is likely to be released on 850-900 screens, according to Variety. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Box Office Autopsy
Jade Scorpion was a tough lesson for DreamWorks. The company spent $26 million bringing Woody's black and white vision to the big screen and trumpeted the film out at 903 locations over the film's opening weekend. Those 903 venues was the widest opening ever for a Woody Allen film, but the girth of release failed to pay off. Curse of the Jade Scorpion debuted to only $2.5 million, and failed to garner the word of mouth a film like this needs. If there is a type of film that's not review proof its a Woody Allen film, and reviews here were not good. Rottentomatoes.com, a site that compiles movie reviews, found 119 notices, but only 56 were positive, leading to a 'rotten' score of 47%.
So with the bad reviews and the bad word of mouth, things quickly got worse for the film. In it's sophomore Labour Day long weekend, it dropped 36% even though the weekend was aided by the holiday Monday. In the following frame, the film dropped a stunning 61% and was doomed to the picked-over bin at Wal-Mart with a final domestic gross of $7.5 million. Foreign grosses were, like usual, better than the domestic, coming in at about $8.8 million for a final haul of $16.3 million. If anyone is desperate for a hit, it's Woody Allen. (John Hamann/BOP)
Comparison films for Curse of the Jade Scorpion
|Dr. T and the Women
|Small Time Crooks
|Husbands and Wives
|Crimes and Misdemeanors
|Ready to Wear *
|State and Main *