July 31 update: The Sarah Palin movie The Undefeated plummeted once again at the North American box office this weekend (July 29-31), according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. After losing 10 of its 14 theaters, The Undefeated collected a meager $5,200 over the weekend – down a horrific 79 percent – and a dismal $1,300 per venue. Last weekend, The Undefeated was down 62 percent despite a 40 percent increase in the number of theaters showing the film.
Sarah Palin fans shouldn't despair. Next February, both the former U.S. vice presidential candidate and The Undefeated movie should be up for Razzie Awards – handed out to the very worst cinematic mis-accomplishments of the year.
Starring Mamma Mia! and Captain America: The First Avenger actor Dominic Cooper, and 8 Women and Swimming Pool actress Ludivine Sagnier, Lee Tamahori's The Devil's Double opened with $95,000 at 5 locations, averaging an acceptable $19,000 per site. The Devil's Double is a fictionalized account of Latif Yahia, a man forced to impersonate Saddam Hussein's son Uday Hussein. An Arabic-accented Dominic Cooper plays both Uday H. and Yahia.
Directed by Joe Cornish and co-executive-produced by Edgar Wright, the comedic alien invasion movie Attack the Block opened with $130,000 at eight locations, averaging $16,850 per site. Much like the opening figures for The Devil's Double, those are acceptable – though not more than acceptable – opening numbers for a movie in very limited release. Remember: all things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters, the higher the per-theater average. In the Attack the Block cast: Nick Frost, Luke Treadaway, and Jodie Whittaker.
Last weekend, Elle s'appelait Sarah / Sarah's Key opened at five sites, averaging $23,142 per theater. This weekend, The Weinstein Company expanded its release to 33 sites. The buzz must have been good, as Sarah's Key was up 218 percent, collecting a solid $369,000 and averaging $11,182 per site. In other words, there's still room for further expansions.
Sarah's Key's North American total currently stands at $539,000; overseas, it has already pulled in nearly $13.5 million. The Gilles Paquet-Brenner-directed Jewish Holocaust-themed drama stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Mélusine Mayance as Sarah. The original French title literally translates as “She Was Called Sarah” or “Her Name Was Sarah.”
Photo: The Devil's Double (Herrick Entertainment / Sofie Van Mieghem).
July 24: Blame it on a liberal/left-wing conspiracy, Obama's repressive policies, or Captain America: The First Avenger, but despite the addition of four theaters – or a 40 percent increase in venues – the Sarah Palin movie The Undefeated plummeted 63 percent on its second weekend out. At 14 locations, The Undefeated collected a dismal $24,000, for a per-theater average of $1,714, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Expect Sarah Palin and The Undefeated to disappear from North American screens very shortly. That is, until both Palin and the Stephen K. Bannon-directed documentary inevitably resurface early next year at the Razzie Awards.
Performing much better in limited release was The Weinstein Company-distributed Sarah's Key, directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, and featuring Kristin Scott Thomas and Mélusine Mayance. The Holocaust-related drama collected $117,000 at five theaters, averaging $23,400 per site. Additionally, Sarah's Key has already taken in $13.42 million overseas, chiefly in France ($6.41m) and The Netherlands ($4.37m).
Also performing well, Mike Cahill's sci-fi drama Another Earth earned an estimated $78,400 at four theaters. Its per-theater average was $19,600. Another Earth features Brit Marling, Matthew-Lee Erlbach, and William Mapother.
Faring more modestly, IFC's The Myth of the American Sleepover opened in one New York City theater, where it grossed $9,100. Directed by David Robert Mitchell, The Myth of the American Sleepover features Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, and Amanda Bauer.
Despite reports to the contrary, the Sarah Palin movie The Undefeated did not play to empty houses on its first weekend out in North America. According to Box Office Mojo, The Undefeated brought in $65,132 at 10 locations over the weekend of July 15–17, '11; the Stephen K. Bannon-directed film's per-theater average was a so-so $6,513. So, “so-so” may not mean “packed houses” or “boffo” (in icky Variety slang), but non-existent patrons bring in no revenue.
The claim that The Undefeated was playing to empty houses became “fact” following a report by The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf, who described his experience sitting mostly alone at a midnight screening of the Sarah Palin documentary in – mostly Republican – Orange County, right behind the Orange Curtain southeast of Los Angeles. But clearly, paying customers were around at other The Undefeated screenings in Orange County, Houston, Phoenix, Indianapolis, and elsewhere. Perhaps far-right Republicans go to bed early?
For comparison's sake: on opening weekend, Charles Ferguson's Inside Job averaged $19,825 at two theaters, Alex Gibney's Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer averaged $5,654 at three theaters, and Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith's The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers earned $1,114 at one location. Inside Job cumed at $7.87 million worldwide; Client 9 grossed a total of $192k and The Most Dangerous Man in America $453,000.
Another 2011 release aimed at the American far-right, the widely derided Atlas Shrugged: Part I, bombed last April. Produced for $20m, the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged collected a mere $4.62 million in North America after much fanfare about a middling opening – $1.68 million at 299 locations, or $5,640 per venue.
Now, some heartless bleeding-heart Liberals have ridiculed the title of Palin's movie even though it may actually turn out to be prophetic. After all, The Undefeated will almost certainly be up for at least one major honor during movie awards season: With a 0 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes – 11 critics; 11 pans – The Undefeated is already a Razzie 2012 front-runner.
“She's the political equivalent of what the Razzies are all about,” Razzie president and founder John Wilson told the Los Angeles Times. “And she's hysterically funny if you don't stop and think, 'Oh, my God, she could've been vice president!' Sarah Palin exhibits ineptitude and an indefensible grasping after other people's ideas, calling them her own. Just like Hollywood filmmakers who can't make an original movie. She wants you to put on rose-colored glasses instead of 3-D glasses, but there is still a surcharge you should not pay.”