"Demolition Man" had better demolish the box office.
The Warner Bros. movie opened to great business over the weekend, grossing $14.3 million. But it will take many more impressive weekends to make a success of the picture, since cost overruns drove the combined production and marketing budget to nearly $97 million, according to knowledgeable sources.
Warner Bros. denies that the budget went that high. But others close to "Demolition Man" say the production cost, which started at $45 million to $50 million, ballooned to as much as $77 million as the filmmakers extended the shooting schedule from 72 to 112 days for the first unit of principal photography, plus an additional 75 days for work done by a second unit.
In the process, producer Joel Silver went through five assistant directors. Because of delays, some crew members, previously committed to other productions, had to leave before "Demolition Man" completed production.
Movie marketing experts estimate that Warner spent about $5 million on promotional materials--including a lavish press kit containing a bomber jacket, CD soundtrack and hard hat. The studio is also believed to have committed $3 million to $4 million a week to ads for the first four weeks.
Warner spokesman Rob Friedman, pointing to the appeal of stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, defended "Demolition Man," saying, "This movie's going to be very profitable."