Universal set to lose money on Miami Vice

The LA Times reported yesterday that Universal could lose as much as $30 million on Miami Vice:

General Electric Co. was counting on “Miami Vice” to sizzle at the box office this summer. But fizzle is closer to the truth.

At a cost of at least $235 million to make and market, the remake of the iconic 1980s TV cop show was the biggest bet of the year for the company’s studio Universal Pictures. During an earnings call with financial analysts in July, GE’s chief financial officer singled out the stylish crime drama as a coming bright spot for the third quarter.

That could leave GE backpedaling on Wall Street: Universal Pictures could lose as much as $30 million on the picture, according to sources who asked not to be named because movie finances are closely guarded.

A little more than a month after its debut, “Miami Vice” has grossed only $63 million at the U.S. box office. An abrupt fall-off in attendance has dimmed the prospect that the film could muster $100 million in domestic receipts, as Universal had projected.

Ouch. It is a disappointing story in a number of ways. Michael Mann is still a great director but the film fell between two stools. It bore little resemblance to the TV show, so alienated the retro crowd hoping for some 80s nostalgia and for the mass audience it was fairly dark and complex for a big summer release.

As a film it certainly has its merits but it seems like the studio wanted one film and Mann wanted to make another. Plus, talent costs and difficulties on the set sent the budget much higher than expected. All these problems contributed to its disappointing financial performance but let’s hope Mann is still given a big canvas on which to make films.

> Original story at the LA Times
> Wikipedia entry for Miami Vice remake
> Slate article on the troubled production