Saudi-backed Princess Diana movie flops at the US box office

Much criticised film earned just under $65,000 and was shown at just 38 screens in its opening weekend
By Shane McGinley
Tue 05 Nov 2013 09:35 AM

The controversial film showcasing the final two years of the life of Britain’s Princess Diana, and which was backed by a Saudi investor, has flopped in the US, taking just under $65,000 on its opening weekend.

British-born Australian actress Naomi Watts stars in the film, which received its red carpet world premiere in London on September 5 and was released in the US on November 1.

Official figures show the movie was shown in just 38 screens and sold just $64,914 worth of tickets, or $1,708 per screening, making it the 38th most popular film released that weekend.

By comparison, the number one film at the US box office, Harrison Ford's Ender’s Game, sold $27m worth of tickets at 3,407 screens. This gave it an average of $7,930 per screenings, more than four times the average earned by the Diana movie.

The movie is based on "Diana: Her Last Love", a book by author Kate Snell published in 2000, which argues that the estranged wife of British heir Prince Charles had a two year relationship with Pakistani doctor Hasnat Khan before being killed in the infamous car crash in Paris.

Producers behind the film confirmed to Arabian Business in September one of the investors behind the movie was a UK-based Saudi businessman.

“Diana had investment from a Saudi businessman but based in UK. He owns a French based distribution company. Apart from that we have none,” Douglas Rae, managing director and executive producer of Ecosse Films, the production company behind the film, said when asked if any Arab investment had been involved in the financing of the film.

The film was not been warmly received and the British tabloids - who followed every twist and turn from Diana's 1981 marriage to Prince Charles, to their divorce and her death in a 1997 Paris car crash - were scathing about the film from German director Oliver Hirschbiegel.

"The Queen of Hearts has been recast as a sad-sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid," wrote the Mirror's David Edwards in a one-star review dubbing the film a "cheap and cheerless effort".

The film, which reportedly has a budget in the region of around $40m has made just over $7m globally and earned $330,344 at cinemas in the UAE. The most popular markets have been the UK ($2.9m), France ($2.3m), Japan ($1.7m) and Australia ($1.4m).

Producers Ecosse Films, which also worked on films such as 2011’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, 2007’s ‘Becoming Jane’ and 1997’s ‘Mrs Brown’, are currently looking for Arab backers for a $150m film trilogy based around the Treasure Island books. “Treasure Island still seeks investment... [for] have potential funding opportunities,” Rae said.

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