‘Analyze This’ At 25: Robert De Niro And Billy Crystal Remember Opening Bigger Than ‘Cruel Intentions’ And Beating ‘The Sopranos’ To The Idea

Even a quarter-century later, box office victory still tastes sweet for Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal.

Reminiscing about their 1999 collaboration, Analyze This, during a Tribeca Festival / De Niro Con screening Friday, the pair swapped memories of sitting at De Niro’s former restaurant, Ago, on the Friday night the film opened. (Crystal drew the night’s biggest laugh by jokingly remembering asking De Niro what the name of the restaurant meant. He was told, “‘Ago f–k yourself.'”).

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Analyze This faced younger-skewing competition in Cruel Intentions, the Sarah Michelle Gellar/Reese Witherspoon/Ryan Philippe thriller, but came out decisively ahead. “The box office was coming in, and it was like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. We’re crushing them!'” Crystal remembered. “It was one of the great nights of my life, to share this with this man, that we made this movie together and loved working with each other and made something that here 25 years later people still enjoy and laugh at.”

The film’s $18 million opening was a record at the time for both stars and its final global cume was $177 million.

De Niro said he wasn’t overly nervous about the commercial outcome, but he conceded, “The fact that it does well means people see it. So, it equals that. … I wasn’t worried about it. I was just having a nice opening night party and then I started hearing that it was doing quite well. So of course we were happy about that. It went to another level that we had not expected.”

The film was directed by Harold Ramis and produced by De Niro’s longtime producing partner and Tribeca Festival co-founder, Jane Rosenthal, along with Paula Weinstein, who was a Tribeca executive for many years until 2023. Weinstein died earlier this year.

Much of the Tribeca conversation covered the development of the film, which was initially written by Kenneth Lonergan, who ended up sharing a screenplay credit with Peter Tolan. Crystal recalled getting the script and helping Tolan punch it up. “We took turns playing” De Niro, who was their one and only choice to play the character of mob boss Paul Vitti. Many twists and turns ensued and this was the pre-Meet the Parents De Niro, who had performed roles with dashes of comedy in Midnight Run and King of Comedy but had yet to present himself to audiences as a fully comedic actor.

When his co-star committed, Crystal was over the moon, but also intimidated. “Bob has this amazing method, and I don’t have one,” he quipped.

Moderator Gayle King highlighted the similarity of the film’s plotline with that of The Sopranos, which premiered later in 1999. “People think you copied The Sopranos, but you were out a lot earlier,” she noted.

Crystal said Billy Wilder had hit on the initial idea of depicting a gangster seeing a therapist all the way back in 1939, though he didn’t end up making a movie based on the premise. He also noted that The Sopranos referenced Analyze This during one episode, but Tony’s on-camera crew emphasize, “But that’s a comedy!”

While the 25th anniversary is a milestone, Crystal said he had an appealing offer for Friday night. “I was invited to have an audience with the Pope today,” he recounted, noting that a large group of comedians had received the invite. “They called me 10 days ago and I said, ‘I can’t because I’m going to be with my Pope,'” Crystal smiled,

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