In spite of the fact that S. Darko, the studio-produced sequel to Richard Kelly's cult classic Donnie Darko, is hated by fans and critics alike, the movie has managed to outpace the original movie in terms of sheer profitability. Speaking with Screen Rant, producer Adam Fields explained that the well-known practice of "Hollywood accounting," through which studios use misleading financial practices to make big-hit movies look like financial failures so that they don't have to pay royalties to the creative partners involved, has guaranteed that Donnie Darko is still a financial failure, according to the studio's records. Meanwhile, S. Darko is a modest success.
"According to the most recent profit statement, it's lost more money than the movie cost -- that's the real magic of 'Hollywood Accounting,'" Fields joked. "Especially because it wasn't like they spent so much money on marketing! It's really amazing that this $4.5 million movie that became the biggest movie on Netflix -- and in the last 15 years there's never been a time when it's not on a cable station or a streaming platform. I think Fox Home Video sold three million units in the first few years. That's a lot of units for a movie that didn't perform in theaters. Then, they paid millions to extend those rights. Yet over the entire last 16 years, they've reported less than $150k in domestic revenue. Where did all that money go? Into the Darko wormhole? The irony is, I just got a profit check for S. Darko for $75! It ain't much, but the sequel, that was never released in theaters, cost almost the same as the original, and I've never seen it on any cable or streaming platform…and yet, that movie is somehow profitable, while the original, this cult phenomenon, has lost more money than it cost to make! These profit statements have a standard clause that they can charge interest on the budget until it's been recouped, which is fine, but each dollar that comes is supposed to reduce that amount. They've never applied any revenue to the cost of the movie, so the interest keeps growing every year. So now the interest is greater than the cost of the film…but it would be great if just a few dollars trickled down to the people who made the movie."
his sarcasm is dripping off the screen here, and if it sounds familiar to you, it might be that you're thinking of Ed Solomon's comments on Men in Black, a movie he co-wrote, and which is still listed as a financial failure for Sony in spite of having made billions via sequels, animated spinoffs, merchandising, video games, and more.
Speaking with ComicBook earlier this year, Kelly said that there are still plans to follow up Donnie Darko but that, unlike with S. Darko, next time around he will give the property over to somebody else over his dead body.
Arrow Films Video has a new Donnie Darko Blu-ray, complete with new features and more, so head out and snag yourself a copy, if that's your thing.