Senior Editor
12.16.08 26 Comments

Now that the dust has settled on the weekend’s box office, Delgo (trailer here) has officially locked up the worst opening ever for a film in wide release.  It opened on 2,160 screens, earning $511,920 for a per-screen average of $237 a screen, shattering the previous worst, P2, which had a $937 average.

This is all too bad because the story of the making of “Delgo” has the makings [sic] of a great Hollywood underdog story. 36-year-old entrepreneur Marc Adler decided he wanted to direct and produce a $40 million computer animated kids’ flick completely independent of Tinseltown behemoths like Disney and Dreamworks.

Starting in 2001, Adler and his small Atlanta-based animation company Fathom Studios toiled for years on a tight budget. They lined up an impressive, if eclectic, cast of voice actors including Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Val Kilmer, Malcolm McDowell, Kelly Ripa, and Anne Bancroft in her final role (she died in 2005). And when Adler couldn’t get a Hollywood studio interested in his movie, he raised eyebrows by releasing it himself through distributor-for-hire Freestyle Releasing. It was a huge risk; one that ultimately didn’t pay off. There wasn’t the sort of marketing budget needed to make a film stand out in the already crowded holiday movie season.

Another problem was the quality of the movie. Or lack thereof. The story — star-crossed lovers squaring off against an evil queen on a fanciful world divided between a reptilian people who can move rocks with their minds and a sprite-like folk who like dragons — borrows liberally from “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Dark Crystal,” just without the charm and intelligence. The script required the efforts of six, count ’em, six screenwriters, including Adler. The critics trashed it, giving it a dreadful D average on Yahoo!, which proved to be lethal. [Yahoo]

Now, this brings up an important point.  People are always telling kids to follow their dreams no matter what and you can make anything happen if you just keep on believin and yadda yadda yadda.  But as this illustrates, sometimes when everyone tells you something isn’t a good idea, when no one wants to distribute your movie or produce your song, sometimes you should take that as a cue to do something else.   (top 10 all-time worst openings after the jump)

Rank Title Opening Theaters Per Screen Release Date
1 Delgo $511,920 2,160 $237 12/12/08
2 P2 $2,083,398 2,131 $977 11/9/07
3 Major League: Back to the Minors $2,087,011 2,322 $899 4/17/98
4 The Real Cancun $2,108,796 2,261 $932 4/25/03
5 College $2,153,109 2,123 $1,014 8/29/08
6 The Adventures of Pluto Nash $2,182,900 2,320 $940 8/16/02
7 All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 $2,256,118 2,037 $1,107 3/29/96
8 Deception $2,312,146 2,001 $1,155 4/25/08
9 I Dreamed of Africa $2,411,445 2,112 $1,141 5/5/00
10 Teacher’s Pet $2,461,252 2,027 $1,214 1/16/04

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