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'Don Jon' Shrinkage: Relativity Suffers Box Office Cold Streak

Don Jon Still - H 2013
Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson in the underperforming "Don Jon"

UPDATED: The Joseph Gordon-Levitt dramedy looks like a loser for the studio, one of a string of losses that could leave it $800 million short of its $1 billion global box-office goal.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. 

In April, Ryan Kavanaugh suggested to THR that his Relativity studio could hit $1 billion in worldwide box office this year. But with three releases left -- Romeo and Juliet (Oct. 11), animated Free Birds (Nov. 1) and thriller Out of the Furnace (Dec. 6) -- the company is nearly $800 million short of that after a string of disappointments.

The latest: the $8.7 million debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon. Relativity picked up U.S. rights to the dramedy for $4 million at Sundance and agreed to a marketing spend in the $25 million range.

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Don Jon likely will top out at less than $20 million and could cost the studio millions. That follows Paranoia, the Harrison Ford thriller that took in a dismal $7.4 million, prompting the exit of marketing chief Terry Curtin.

Luc Besson's The Family also isn't thriving despite stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. The studio's 2013 hit is Lasse Hallstrom's Safe Haven, which earned $71.4 million domestic.

Nonetheless, a Relativity rep stands by their current strategy: “The old Hollywood system is incredibly outdated as it values initial box-office performance over long-term value and profitability. The Relativity business model allows us to release a diverse slate of films to a global audience while significantly minimizing financial risk. We are focused on profitability, not grosses that account for less than 10% of a movies value, and by that important measure our slate has been a resounding success as we continue to exceed our investors’ expectations.”

Relativity insiders also dispute the notion that Don Jon will lose money, saying the only 2013 movie so far to result in a loss is Paranoia. They also say that at the time Kavanaugh made the $1 billion comment, the company had planned to release three additional movies this year.