Poor 'Woodstock' results baffle Ang Lee

Comedy is Academy Award-winner's worst since 'Devil'

HONG KONG -- Ang Lee said he's baffled by the poor boxoffice results of "Taking Woodstock" -- the Oscar-winning director's worst-performing English-language movie in the U.S. in 10 years.

The Focus Features comedy, which chronicles the buildup to the 1969 rock 'n' roll gathering that drew half a million fans, had earned $7.4 million in the U.S. as of Monday, according to the boxoffice tracking Web site Box Office Mojo. It's Lee's worst outing at the boxoffice for an English film since "Ride with the Devil," which made $635,096. The 1999 western had a limited release of 60 theaters compared to 1,395 for "Taking Woodstock."

Lee's last English film, the 2005 gay romance "Brokeback Mountain," made $83 million and earned him a best director Oscar.

Attending the Hong Kong premiere for "Taking Woodstock" late Wednesday, the Taiwan director said he's not sure why the film tanked.

"I'm not sure why. I think the movie is quite good. I'm very proud of it. Maybe people wanted to see the actual Woodstock festival, or maybe Woodstock isn't attractive to youngsters," Lee told reporters.

Asked if the film would have trouble breaking even, he said, "I had such a fun time making this movie. I don't want to know." Lee said he decided to make the movie partly for a change of mood after shooting the dark Chinese-language spy thriller "Lust, Caution."

Focus Features chief executive James Schamus said at the Cannes Film Festival in May that "Taking Woodstock" would only need to turn in a "very modest" performance in North America to turn a profit because it had already recovered most of its investment from foreign sales.

Lee said his next project will be an adaptation of Canadian writer Yann Martel's best-selling novel "Life of Pi." The fable about a boy and a tiger who survive a shipwreck won Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, in 2002. Lee said he is still working on the script.