Inside Move: Buried in a ‘Whole’

As sequel sinks, future of Franchise clouds

After more than three years of delays, jury selection begins April 20 in Intertainment’s $100 million lawsuit against Franchise Entertainment. The dismal B.O. perf of Franchise’s most recent pic, Bruce Willis vehicle “The Whole Ten Yards,” isn’t likely to improve Elie Samaha‘s outlook.

The comedy is a sequel to the most successful pic in Franchise’s history, the 2000 release “The Whole Nine Yards,” which grossed more than $100 million worldwide on a budget of about $24 million.

However, judging by critical and audience response, “The Whole Ten Yards” was a sequel no one wanted or needed. Budgeted around $40 million, it grossed $6.7 million domestic in its opening weekend.

It’s one in a string of disappointments for Samaha’s shingle, which has a put deal through Warner Bros. that expires in 2005. Although the studio doesn’t typically invest in the Franchise titles, in 2001 it began to invest the efforts of exec VP of production Kevin McCormick, who was charged with helping improve quality control. (The decision to make a “Yards” sequel predated his involvement.)

Since then, Franchise has slowed its breakneck production pace and seen an uptick in the class of its talent, working with the likes of Robert De Niro, David Mamet, Michael Douglas, Rob Reiner and Kate Hudson.

Unfortunately, that boost has not been reflected at the box office.

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