August 31, 2001
Ow. Teen drama. Teen drama remake adapted from the Shakespeare play, Othello. Rated R. Basketball is involved. Insult to injury factor: Shelved for two years by Miramax, picked up to be released by Lion's Gate films.
Good news? Julia Stiles co-stars in "O", and she helped make Save the Last Dance (a teen/romance/drama) a surprising commercial success. Co-star Josh Hartnett of Pearl Harbor could have a small following.
"O" may very well be a superbly-acted, well-written, poignant and socially relevant film. It may suck, with nothing to say. It doesn't matter. No amount of screens (if "O" even sees anything amounting to a wide release) will aid this DOA waiting to be dumped at theaters August 31st. (Cal Hubbard/BOP)
August 6, 2001
"O" was on the cover of the August 10th issue of Entertainment Weekly as the highlight film featured in their "10 Summer Movies Worth Seeing" article. "O" will be opening on 1,400+ screens, and the fact that Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett both had hot movies in 2001 only indicates this film has better potential for breakout than it may have been previously credited. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Box Office Autopsy
Even with Josh Hartnett and Julia Stiles, Lions Gate Entertainment still couldn't open "O" above $6 million; the trick is that they didn't have to. Directed by O Brother Where Art Thou star Tim Blake Nelson, "O" is the modern day telling of Othello set in high school. The film was originally set to open in 1998, but was delayed three years due to the Columbine High School tragedy. Due to the violence in the film, it was tagged with an R rating which really hurt its chances at the box office.
Lions Gate picked the film up off of Miramax, which dropped it due to worries about any controversy the film might cause. Lions Gate bought it for a song, paying only $5 million for North American rights. The ploy worked. The film opened to $5.7 million from only 1,434 venues, giving it a decent opening weekend screen average of $3,944. Lions Gate had successfully turned a controversial hot potato into an opening weekend budget beater. At this point though, they dropped the ball. Despite a 63% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, Lions Gate chose not to expand the film in the following weeks, and the film died on the vine, dropping 53% in its second weekend, and 45% in its third. The film ended up pulling in $16 million for the small Canadian Company. From there, the home video ended up pulling in more than its domestic gross, as "O" found $27.2 in rental revenue.