Saturday, July 16, 2011

Palin's Propaganda Movie Does Not-So-Boffo Biz -- Even In Right-Wing Markets

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We noticed last week that Sarah Palin was opening her propaganda movie, The Undefeated on the same day as the final Harry Potter movie. It's turning out about as well as you'd expect. Like Dolores Umbridge and the centaurs.

As Reuters reports, the movie is only being released in 10 theaters nationwide, all focused on right-wing precincts like Orange County and Dallas. And the folks who are showing up are certainly enthusiastic:
"Run, Sarah, run!" shouted Californian Sherman Roodzant, 64, as the final credits rolled on the 1:10 p.m. showing in a half-filled theater in Orange. Roodzant drove 150 miles (240 km) to see it and said it was worth every mile.

"It was awesome," Roodzant said. "It showed her life story and showed what a great American she is and what a great potential leader she is. It made me feel stronger toward her."

That kind of fervor is exactly what distributors are banking on. They saw it at the premiere last month in a small town in conservative-leaning Iowa.

"I couldn't believe the crowd reaction" in Iowa, said Trevor Drinkwater, CEO of ARC Entertainment, which is handling the film's distribution. "It is a biased crowd, but still."
And of course, they're outraged that the movie isn't showing in more theaters RIGHT NOW:
Gay Meador, 62, said she was "shocked and ashamed" that the Orange AMC theater was the only place where "The Undefeated" was showing in her area, let alone California.
Except, of course, for the little problem that, as Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic reports, most of the seats in the 10 theaters where it's showing are going empty:
I hurried through the teenage hordes, bypassed a concession stand that sold 1,020 calories of soda for $5.25, and entered theater number 30, hoping I'd have ample time before the previews to talk to some people. But inside, the theater was empty. I sat there alone for 20 minutes, at which point an usher stuck his head in the door, gave me a quizzical smile, and said, "How come you're not watching Harry Potter?" Then he left me by myself again, and without any good answer.
And those who have seen the film with, ah, more objective eyes seem to want the hour and a half of their lives back -- such as Marlow Stern at The Daily Beast:
When Palin is selected as John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election, and the small-town girl is besieged on all sides, the film loses its grip entirely. In a classic film-propaganda tactic, personal attacks on Palin by media pundits correspond with shocking videos of avalanches, packs of lions feeding on zebras, people being buried alive in sand on the beach, and medieval knights with arrows in their backs. At times, the viewer feels like he or she is playing out the iconic scene in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, where criminal Alex DeLarge is strapped to a chair, eyes spread wide, and subjected to a series of violent images as a brainwashing technique.
Me? I'm going to see the Potter film this afternoon. In IMAX 3-D. The Palin film isn't showing anywhere in Seattle.

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