Town & Country (film)
|Town & Country|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Chelsom|
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
|Edited by||Claire Simpson|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$10.4 million|
Town & Country is a 2001 American romantic comedy film directed by Peter Chelsom, written by Buck Henry and Michael Laughlin, and starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling, Andie MacDowell, Jenna Elfman, Nastassja Kinski, and Charlton Heston. Beatty plays an architect, with Keaton as his wife, and Hawn and Shandling as their best friends. This is Beatty's and Keaton's first film together since 1981's Reds, and Beatty's third film with Hawn, after 1971's $ and 1975's Shampoo.
Town & Country holds the distinction of being one of the biggest box office flops in American film history, grossing a little over $10 million worldwide from a $90 million budget. The film was Beatty's last appearance on screen until Rules Don't Apply, slated for a November 2016 after being in production for over a decade.
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 did not 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 does not 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 is not 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 is not another woman.
- Warren Beatty as Porter Stoddard
- Diane Keaton as Ellie Stoddard
- Goldie Hawn as Mona Morris
- Garry Shandling as Griffin Morris
- Andie MacDowell as Eugenie Claybourne
- Jenna Elfman as Auburn
- Nastassja Kinski as Alex
- Charlton Heston as Mr. Claybourne
- Marian Seldes as Mrs. Claybourne
- Joshua Hartnett as Tom Stoddard
- Katharine Towne as Holly Stoddard
- Ian McNeice as Peter Principal
- Bill Hootkins as Barney
- Terri Hoyos as Yolanda
- Tricia Vessey as Alice
- Azura Skye as Spider
- Buck Henry as Suttler
- Charlie Rose (uncredited archive footage) as himself
The production costs of the film totaled an estimated USD$90 million, not including distribution and marketing expenses. The total worldwide box office came to $10,365,000. 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 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 to $125 million.
The production itself began on June 8, 1998 on a budget of $44 million, including $10 million up front for 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 Shandling had to leave to do another film (What Planet Are You From?), as did Keaton (Hanging Up, which she also directed). It took a full year before they could gather the cast back together to film the new pages written by Buck Henry. Henry was hired for what was originally only going to be a few weeks of polish work. Eventually, he 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".
Reshoots were scheduled to begin on April 10, 2000, and expected to last just a couple of weeks. However, filming continued through June 2000, when it finally wrapped two years after principal photography originally began. The reshoots included all of the new scenes, with screenwriter Buck Henry joining the cast as a divorce mediator. A new climax at a fashion gala involving all of the main female characters was written and filmed. Also, the closure scenes with Shandling and Hawn at the antique store and the scene with Beatty and Kinski on the street near the end were added. The scene between Beatty and Kinski in Manhattan as she is hailing a cab was actually filmed in downtown Los Angeles, and was one of the last scenes filmed.
Release and reception
The film finally made it into theaters on April 27, 2001, nearly three years after filming began. It received generally negative reviews, and holds a 13% rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. It was called "boorish" and "obtuse" by one reviewer. 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." An article at The Hollywood Reporter lists Town & Country as the fifth-largest box office bomb of the 2000s. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time. Author James Robert Parish in his book 2006, Fiasco — A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops, also states the film was a flop.
- Golden Raspberry Awards
- "TOWN & COUNTRY (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 15, 2001. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
- "Town & Country (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- "Town & Country?". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
- Movie Budget Records from TheNumbers.com
- Box Office & Business from the Internet Movie Database
- Town & Country at Rotten Tomatoes
- The AV Club
- KIlday, Fernandez, & Kit (20 November 2009), "Top 10 Movie Flops of the Decade", The Hollywood Reporter (Hollywood, California)
- Eller, Claudia,"The costliest box office flops of all time", Los Angeles Times (January 15, 2014)
- Parish, James Robert (2006). Fiasco — A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0471691594.