From what I’ve read, the novel was set at New York City’s American Museum Of Natural History, but – as can happen in the real world – apparently those in charge of running said institution were not so flattered with its depiction in the book. IMDB.com reports that representatives of Paramount Pictures were keen on mirroring Relic’s events as closely as possible, so they met with museum representatives in an attempt to smooth things out. Allegedly, the studio offered them a seven-figure sum in exchange for the rights to film there, but at this point they were more concerned that the depiction of the monster might due considerable damage to their reputation in the community, perhaps even going so far as to scare younger patrons away from the institution. As a result, The Relic was refashioned so that it could take place at the Field Museum Of Natural History located in Chicago, Illinois.
For those unaware, here’s the plot summary for the film as provided by the good folks at IMDB.com:
“A homicide detective and an anthropologist try to destroy a South American lizard-like god, who’s on a people-eating rampage in a Chicago museum.”
While I personally found the film more than a bit imperfect (my Flashback Review is posted on SciFiHistory.Net right here), I will admit to having a soft spot for it because it gave actress Penelope Ann Miller an incredible opportunity to headline a big budget Horror feature. (Don’t quote me on this, but I do believe this was her first Horror.) She’s a talent I’ve always loved, but – alas – studios seem to have wasted her in small roles where she never quite gets the attention I think she deserves.
In any event, BombReport.com suggests that The Relic was budgeted as around $40 million dollars US, but Wikipedia.org’s listing indicates a higher figure ($70M). Heck, even TheNumbers.com suggests that the film was produced for around $60M; and I can’t help but wonder if some of these differences are owed to production + advertising costs, though I suspect – Hollywood math being what Hollywood math is – I’ll never know. BombReport.com does show that the film grossed a disappointing $33M, a figure not all that terrible given the fact that insiders predicted it wouldn’t do well with audiences initially. Still, I think it’s fair to conclude that The Relic is best considered something as lost to history as are the artifacts still eluding an archaeologist’s discovery.
It's still my job to celebrate the good, the bad, and the ugly – box office be damned – on the site, so let me give it the proper shout-out today on the anniversary of its first screening (in the U.S.) back in 1997.