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Shutter Island Box Office: Biggest Scorsese-DiCaprio Hit?

Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio Martin ScorseseShutter Island with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese working behind the scenes. Partly an homage to Alfred Hitchcock, Shutter Island features bits straight out of Psycho, Vertigo, and North by Northwest.
  • Shutter Island box office: Notwithstanding a number of negative reviews, the mystery thriller just might become the biggest commercial success of the early 21st-century duo of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Shutter Island box office: Mystery thriller to become most successful Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration?

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Feb. 26–28 weekend box office: Starring three-time Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator, 2004; etc.) and Mark Ruffalo, Martin Scorsese’s mystery thriller Shutter Island has remained at the top of the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart for the second weekend in a row, grossing $22.7 million (down 45 percent) from 3,003 locations, according to final studio figures found at

Last weekend, Shutter Island opened with an impressive $41.1 million.

Reportedly budgeted at $80 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), Shutter Island has earned $75.5 million after only ten days. Despite a number of negative reviews, the thriller is expected to become the highest-grossing Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration at the domestic box office.

For comparison’s sake, here are the total domestic grosses (not adjusted for inflation) of their three previous efforts:

Oscar-pedigreed cast

Besides Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, the Oscar-pedigreed Shutter Island movie cast includes: Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, 1982), and nominees Max von Sydow (Pelle the Conqueror, 1988), Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, 2005), Patricia Clarkson (Pieces of April, 2003), and Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, 2006).

Other cast members include Emily Mortimer, Ted Levine, Elias Koteas, and John Carroll Lynch.

Laeta Kalogridis (of Oliver Stone’s Alexander) adapted Shutter Island from Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel.

Shutter Island vs. The Departed

Update: As it turned out, Shutter Island did not become the most successful Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration at the domestic box office, eventually reaching $128 million – and thus trailing (even without inflation-adjusted figures) the crime drama The Departed.

Internationally, Shutter Island took in $166.8 million, for a worldwide total of $294.8 million – vs. The Departed’s global take of $291.5 million.

So, which one sold more tickets worldwide?

Considering inflation and the current low value of the U.S. dollar, the all-but-certain winner is The Departed.

For the record: Shutter Island’s top international markets were France ($26.4 million), Japan ($17 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($16.3 million), Germany ($14.7 million), Spain ($11.4 million), Australia ($9.5 million), and Italy ($9.4 million).

Avatar 2009 Zoe Saldana Na’viAvatar 2009 with Zoe Saldana as a Na’vi: $700 million milestone.

Avatar reaches domestic box office milestone

In other noteworthy box office news, this past weekend Avatar added $13.7 million at no. 4 on the domestic chart (trailing Shutter Island, and underwhelming newcomers Cop Out [$18.2 million] and The Crazies [$16.1 million]). Total to date: $706.6 million.

That makes James Cameron’s record-breaking futuristic fantasy adventure the first movie ever to score more than $700 million domestically.

Having said that, keep in mind that Avatar is still behind numerous other movies – among them Gone with the Wind, Jaws, Star Wars, and Cameron’s own Titanic – in terms of actual ticket sales.

Up for nine Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, Avatar features Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, and three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, 1986; etc.).

French/Part-French ‘arthouse’ hits: The Ghost Writer & A Prophet boast top per-theater averages

Now, approach the domestic box office data from a different angle and you’ll reach the conclusion that this past weekend’s top success stories were not those of Shutter Island and Avatar, but of two “small” movies: Roman Polanski’s French/British/German-made political thriller The Ghost Writer and Jacques Audiard’s French-made prison drama A Prophet / Un prophète.

After going from two to 43 venues, The Ghost Writer pulled in $789,000 while averaging a solid $18,350 per venue – the highest figure among the top 50 films on the domestic chart. (Update: The Ghost Writer’s box office popularity didn’t last very long.)

Winner of the Best Director Silver Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival and enthusiastically received by U.S. critics, The Ghost Writer features Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, James Belushi, and Jeff Burrell, in addition to Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom, 2001), Oscar winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People, 1980), and veteran Eli Wallach (The Misfits, The Victors).

The winner of nine Prix César, including Best Picture and Best Director, A Prophet brought in $164,000 from nine sites; its $18,197 per-theater average was right behind that of The Ghost Writer. Of course, A Prophet is being screened at way fewer sites; in other words, The Ghost Writer’s weekend take was far more remarkable.

A Prophet features Best Actor César winner Tahar Rahim, Best Supporting Actor winner Niels Arestrup, Leïla Bekhti, Adel Bencherif, Hichem Yacoubi, Reda Kateb, and Jean-Philippe Ricci.

Shutter Island Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Shutter Island Box Office: Biggest Scorsese-DiCaprio Hit?” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,, etc.).

Comments about Shutter Island, Avatar, The Ghost Writer, A Prophet, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio Shutter Island movie image: Andrew Cooper | Paramount.

Zoe Saldana Avatar movie image: Weta | 20th Century Fox.

Shutter Island Box Office: Biggest Scorsese-DiCaprio Hit?” last updated in October 2022.

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1 comment

Ryan -

Can’t wait to see it. A different type of role for DiCaprio.


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