Movie Article

Safe 'Harbor'?

The mega-budgeted WWII epic's box office take has stalled at $144 million

Ben Affleck, Pearl Harbor | 'HARBOR' MASTER Affleck (who has a large back-end deal) hopes that ''Pearl Harbor'' will be profitable
Image credit: Pearl Harbor: Andrew Cooper
'HARBOR' MASTER Affleck (who has a large back-end deal) hopes that ''Pearl Harbor'' will be profitable

Just weeks ago, ''Pearl Harbor'''s hard-to-avoid marketing campaign made attendance seem like a civic duty. But as the pricey film has been overshadowed by ''Shrek'' as this summer's big draw, can ''Pearl'' still become a box office gem? Once expected to pass $200 million in domestic box office easily, Michael Bay's World War II epic -- with an estimated $240 million price tag, including marketing -- was dry-docked at $144 million at press time. (And roughly half of that will be kept by theaters.) Gitesh Pandya, editor of boxofficeguru.com, says it ''has a very long road to travel on before it reaches profitability.''

Blaming poor word of mouth and a lack of repeat customers, Pandya estimates ''Pearl'' needs a worldwide gross of $500-600 million to break even. But Christopher Dixon, entertainment analyst at UBS Warburg, calculates it's already profitable, given potential income from video, DVD, cable, and TV -- and projects ''Pearl'' will likely end up $75 million in the black. For his part, Disney Motion Pictures Group chairman Dick Cook dismisses the naysayers: ''Box office analysts [are] terribly wrong....'' [We've] got all summer to play.'' Bombs away.

Additional reporting by Daniel Fierman

Originally posted Jun 14, 2001
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