Monday, May 27, 2024

Oracle-Backed Annapurna Pictures Takes $38 Million Bath with Box Office Flop “Sisters Brothers”


It’s all over for the movie no one saw but got great reviews: Jacques Audiard’s “The Sisters Brothers.” The movie cost $38 million and made just $1 million in a month of release.

Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly got terrific notices, and everyone was excited about Audiard making an English language film. But Annapurna Pictures, owned by Megan Ellison and backed by her father, Oracle Corp. billionaire Larry Ellison, blew it. Now, the film is done, a total loss, and Annpurna is in peril.

What happened? No marketing. No publicity. No distribution plan. The people Ellison has hired didn’t have the experience or the know how to launch the film.

But Annapurna has been plagued as of late with issues since Megan Ellison went from backing terrific indie flicks to attempting to be a studio overnight. The five movies they’ve released that have made a total of $38.8 million. Most of that comes from Kathryn Bigelow’s 2017 “Detroit,” which made $17 million and lost much more, and this summer’s “Sorry to Bother You,” which also made around $17 million.

Just recently, Annapurna has backed off of making three films they had in their production ramp. They have to deal with two imminent releases– Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” and Nicole Kidman as a dirty cop in “Destroyer.” These are two BIG releases with Oscar winners and major stars. If either of these two releases goes sideways, that could be it for Annapurna, even with Larry Ellison reportedly trying to fix things.

On a personal note, I never saw “Sisters Brothers.” When I asked for tickets to the premier, I was told there were no more tickets. I never saw “Sorry to Bother You” either. I’ve never received anything about “Vice.” I was lucky to see “Destroyer” only because it was shown in Toronto.

(PS I can’t be the only reviewer or press person to have this sort of problem with Annpurna. In Toronto, I was told not to speak to the cast of unknowns in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which opens at the end of November and requires all the help in the world to make it work.)

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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