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Trivia / The Gingerbread Man

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The film:

  • Box Office Bomb: Budget—$25 million. Box Office—$1,677,131.
  • Creator's Oddball: There are a few little arty touches, but otherwise this is one of Robert Altman's most straightforward movies, without a Hyperlink Story and little of his trademark Genre Deconstruction or Black Comedy.
  • Disowned Adaptation: John Grisham didn't like the script rewrites, particularly the addition of a hurricane as a plot point and the use of profanity.
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  • Dyeing for Your Art: Daryl Hannah darkened her signature blonde hair.
  • Fake American: Kenneth Branagh (Northern Ireland) and Famke Janssen (Netherlands) as natives of Savannah, Georgia. Also Embeth Davidtz, who was born in the US, but spent most of her youth in South Africa. Surprisingly, Davidtz has the least convincing Southern accent of the three.
  • Playing Against Type: You'd expect Famke Janssen to play the Femme Fatale and Embeth Davidtz to play the long-suffering ex-wife worried about her kids, but it's actually the other way around.
  • Screwed by the Network: PolyGram released it in late January, right in the middle of the Dump Months. They clearly were setting the movie up to fail. At its peak, it played in just 30 theaters.
  • The Shelf of Movie Languishment: The release was delayed by a year while Altman and the studio fought over the final cut.
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  • Troubled Production: John Grisham wrote the first draft of the screenplay in 1991, then it fell into Development Hell before Kenneth Branagh discovered it. Greenlighted by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment via Island Pictures (the film company headed by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, which PolyGram had bought a few years earlier), Branagh pushed for the studio to hire a respected director for the film, and Robert Altman was brought in. Altman decide to rewrite the script, which basically ended Grisham's involvement. The budget ballooned to $25 million, partly to cover Branagh's salary. The budget could've been even higher, because Altman cast Robert Downey Jr., who was in the midst of his drug-related legal troubles. PolyGram would've preferred a large insurance policy to cover Downey, but Altman just ignored the demand. Expecting another Grisham blockbuster, PolyGram got nervous after it didn't score all that well with preview audiences (though Branagh said it actually scored fine, just not overwhelmingly so), and recut it (including scrapping Mark Isham's score) without informing Altman, which left him furious. It also angered Chris Blackwell, who resigned as the head of Island Pictures, a moved that led PolyGram to close the company. Then, when the recut version scored worse with preview audiences, PolyGram released Altman's cut (with Isham's music back in), but didn't give it much of a release, and it wound up a Box Office Bomb.
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