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D.O.A.P. (Doubts Over A Price)

Death170x225 by Gregg Goldstein
After the Toronto world premiere screening of "D.O.A.P. (Death of a President) on Sunday, I asked one of the film's producers, Ed Guinley, what the budget was for the film. "Around $2 million," he said, with GreenCine.com scribe (and all-around nice guy) David D'Arcy listening in. "That's $2 million in U.S. dollars?" I replied to the British producer, telling him I wanted to clarify this after seeing the extravigant special effects that made it appear President George W. Bush had actually been shot onscreen. He confirmed it was in U.S. dollars. David asked him if it was ok to print that, he said yes, and we all went on our merry, slightly shellshocked way as the impact of the intense faux-documentary sunk in.

When I filed my story that evening on Newmarket's $1 million U.S. rights acquisition and Maple Films' $500,000 US acquisition, plus five foreign territories bringing total sales to around $3 million, I thought it sounded like a tidy profit was made. But late Monday night I bumped into Guinley again with producer/director Gabriel Range as I was leaving the industry-heavy crowd at the Park Hyatt lounge and they were entering. "Congrats!" I said. "You did very well for a $2 million movie." Range replied that it was $4 million. In U.S. dollars, I asked? "$4 million British sterling," he replied.

After reminding Guinley on the info he gave me and D'Arcy, he backtracked and concurred with Range. I took the elevator down and ran to the concierge's desk, asking him if he could convert that to U.S. dollars. It rang up as $7.5 million. Took another look online and saw it reported in another U.S. publication as a $4 million film. With all the different prices floating around, Range was certainly living up to his name.

Was this a case of producers inflating the budget to get a higher sales price for the film? Just some British guys who were bit uncertain about the currency exchange during a hectic whirlwind of press controversy, sales meetings and Toronto fest attention?

It certainly looks like it could be a $7.5 million movie, but the costs from Chicago location shooting and expensive-looking CGI effects could easily be offset by an unknown cast and the use of low-cost authentic footage of real politicians. With all of the blurring of fact and fiction in "D.O.A.P." I suppose the question over the authenticity of its budget is a fitting coda.


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