Town & Country (film)

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Town & Country
Town & Country.jpg
Directed by Peter Chelsom
Written by Michael Laughlin
Buck Henry
Starring Warren Beatty
Diane Keaton
Goldie Hawn
Garry Shandling
Andie MacDowell
Jenna Elfman
Nastassja Kinski
Charlton Heston
Edited by Claire Simpson
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • April 27, 2001 (2001-04-27)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $90 million
Box office $10,372,291[1]

Town & Country is a 2001 film starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Garry Shandling and directed by Peter Chelsom. It is a romantic comedy in which Beatty plays an architect, with Keaton as his wife and Hawn and Shandling as their best friends. It holds the distinction of being one of the biggest box office flops in American film history.[2]

This is Beatty's and Keaton's first film together since 1981's Reds. As well, this is Beatty's third film with Hawn since 1971's $ and 1975's Shampoo. To date, this is Beatty's last appearance on screen.


Porter Stoddard is so prosperous an architect, he has New York homes on Park Avenue and in the Hamptons, as well as a vacation lodge out west in Sun Valley. He has been married for 25 years to the equally successful Ellie, an interior designer, but has been having an affair with Alex, a beautiful young cellist.

There is trouble brewing in the marriage of their best friends. Mona Morris wants a divorce from antique-dealer husband Griffin, catching him having a hotel tryst. The part she didn't catch is that Griffin's new romantic partner is a cross-dressing man.

Mona wants to travel to Mississippi to see her girlhood antebellum home. Ellie is worried about Mona's depression over the state of her marriage and doesn't feel she should be alone, so Porter is asked to accompany Mona down south. There they end up having a quick sexual fling.

With things awkward at home for both, Porter and Griffin fly by themselves to Sun Valley to get away from their troubles. But it isn't long before Porter finds himself in a romantic entanglement with Eugenie Claybourne, a spoiled heiress whose gun-loving father is already loading his shotgun in case Porter does wrong by his daughter. A free spirit named Auburn also ends up coaxing Porter and Griffin to a Halloween party, where they end up dressed in preposterous costumes.

By the time Porter returns to New York, everything is falling apart, not only his home life but his house. And, once and for all, Griffin finds the nerve to tell his wife that he is leaving her for someone else, but it's not another woman.


Production history[edit]

Production costs[edit]

The production costs of the film totaled an estimated USD $90 million,[3] not including distribution and marketing expenses. The total worldwide box office came to $10,365,000.[3] Considering that typically half of the gross box-office receipts go to the exhibitors and half to the filmmakers, Town & Country lost the studio at least $100 million, and probably much more if costs for distribution and marketing are considered, which average around $35–50 million for a studio picture such as this. The studio, having already spent in excess of $90 million, backed a very limited distribution and marketing campaign in the $15–20 million range, bringing the total cost to $105–110 million. However, some insiders have said that the total production costs were more likely in the $100-105 million range with the prints and ads at around $20 million, which would bring the total costs at $125 million.


The production itself began on June 8, 1998 on a budget of $44 million, including $10 million up front for Warren Beatty. Filming was originally supposed to wrap by the fall of 1998 for a summer or fall 1999 release. Various problems occurred during filming, however, including Beatty's meticulous demand for many takes. Also, the script was still being developed, as writers were not satisfied with the ending originally written by Michael Laughlin. Various other screenwriters were brought in, including Paul Attanasio and Gary Ross. By April 1999, production was still going, but Garry Shandling had to leave to do another film (What Planet Are You From?) as did Diane Keaton (Hanging Up, which she also directed). It would take a full year before they could gather the cast back together to film the new pages written by Buck Henry. Buck Henry was hired for what was originally only going to be a few weeks of polish work. Eventually, Henry stayed on for several months and ended up earning (by some accounts) $3 million for rewriting roughly half of the script. Henry has stated that he bought a new home with the money he made on this "quick rewrite assignment".

2000 reshoots[edit]

Reshoots were scheduled to began on April 10, 2000, and expected to last just a couple of weeks. However filming continued on through June 2000 when it finally wrapped two years after principle photography originally began. The reshoots included all of the new scenes with screenwriter Buck Henry as the divorce mediator. A new climax at the fashion gala involving all of the main female characters was also written and filmed. Also the closure scenes with Garry Shandling and Goldie Hawn at the antique store and the scene with Warren Beatty and Nastassja Kinski on the street near the end was also added. The scene between Beatty and Kinski on the streets of Manhattan as she's hailing a cab, was actually filmed in downtown Los Angeles and was one of the last scenes filmed.

Release and reception[edit]

The film finally made it into theaters on April 27, 2001, nearly three years after filming began. It received generally negative reviews and was called "boorish" and "obtuse" by one reviewer.[4] Critic Nathan Rabin described it as "the rare movie that can't seem to decide whether it wants to be Freddy Got Fingered or Hannah and Her Sisters."[5] It holds a 13% rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[4] An article from The Hollywood Reporter lists Town & Country as the fifth-largest box office bomb of the 2000s.[6] In 2014, the LA Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time.[7] Following the film's poor reviews and dismal reception by audiences, most of the cast were not seen in major motion pictures for some time. For instance, it is Beatty's last film appearance to date: another person who left the films from this piece was Nastassja Kinski, who scored in the 1980s with Tess and Cat People. Perhaps the only one to come out unscathed was Diane Keaton, who went on to star in the box-office smash hit Something's Gotta Give. Jenna Elfman went back to television sitcoms and Goldie Hawn made The Banger Sisters before taking a break from films. This was one of the final appearances in a substantial film role in the long career of Charlton Heston.

Josh Hartnett, who had a minor role, actually reached his peak after the film's release, with roles in Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down and 40 Days and 40 Nights. The director, Peter Chelsom, went on to bigger successes with Serendipity, Shall We Dance? and Hannah Montana: The Movie, all of which became box office hits.



Further reading[edit]

  • Parish, James Robert (2006). Fiasco — A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 359 pages. ISBN 978-0-471-69159-4. 

External links[edit]