Monday, July 18, 2011
How to remain Undefeated.
I dislike Sarah Palin, but I don't want to make a hobby of it. I dislike her politics and I dislike her supporters coming up for excuses to explain why she isn't dim-witted when she shows herself to be dull and poorly educated with astonishing regularity.
This weekend, a documentary film about the former half-term governor of Alaska was released to very little fanfare. It's called The Undefeated, which is almost as silly a title as Sarah is silly herself. Clearly, she has been defeated. She played basketball and her team lost occasionally. She competed for Miss Alaska and lost. And of course, she was second bill on a presidential ticked that got seriously drubbed.
There are two main websites that track movies released in the United States, Box Office Mojo and The Numbers. Neither site reported how many screens The Undefeated would be shown on this weekend or how the movie did. This is odd, because they will report no only on the huge movies like Harry Potter, but also small independent releases showing on just a handful of screens nationwide. (The Undefeated opened in ten theaters across the nation.) I e-mailed Box Office Mojo (BOM) to find out why and got a nice reply from Brandon Gray, the guy who runs the site. Distributors get in touch with BOM to tell them the numbers. The company run by Stephen K. Bannon didn't do that, so Bannon doesn't have to have his movie's numbers compared to other films, even other movies showing on very few screens.
This is how you remain The Undefeated. Make sure when you play, no one keeps score.
UPDATE: The distributors HAVE released the numbers for this weekend. 10 theaters and about $65,000 in ticket sales, for about $6,500 per screen. it's not fair to compare it to movies with big openings on lots of screens, so instead let's look at other small releases this weekend. In terms of per screen, it did almost exactly the same as Errol Morris' new documentary Tabloid, it did better than Wayne Wang's new movie Snow Flower And The Secret Fan at $5,500 per screen, but it was crushed the latest Bollywood release in the U.S., Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, released on 100 screens, bringing in about a million bucks and making about $9,500 per screen. That's a pretty humiliating defeat for the Tea Party crowd.
As it opens wider, it will be interesting to see if conservative word of mouth can overcome the overwhelmingly negative reviews. Moreover, this was meant to go straight to DVD, so the producers never made a film copy, forcing the movie to be shown at theaters equipped with DVD players.
On some website, not HuffPo, possibly Talking Points Memo or Oliver Willis' blog, I predicted this would do better than Bill Cunningham New York (more's the pity, it's a great film), but would not surpass Ben Stein's pro intelligent design documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. That means I think it will make between $1 million and $7 million in the theaters. (Ticket sales aside, Stein is a dishonest scumbag and the movie is a fraud, as Scientific American so ably points out.)
So far, I think my prediction numbers are pretty safe, especially on the high side. This looks like an Atlas Shrugged size dud, though in its favor, the filmmakers didn't spend that much to make this one.