The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Sarah Palin's 'Undefeated' takes a big belly flop at box office

July 25, 2011 |  1:25 pm

Sarah_palin "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II" wasn't the only movie to take a precipitous plunge at the box office this past weekend. You could say the same thing about "The Undefeated," the admiring documentary about Sarah Palin, which dropped 64% at the box office, which is quite a feat, considering it had made only $65,000 in its theatrical debut weekend.

Just a week ago, Andrew Breitbart's ardently conservative Big Hollywood site was slamming the lamestream liberal media for its coverage of the opening of "The Undefeated," which Breitbart's minions claimed had a phenomenal opening despite all sorts of snarky negative reporting from the liberal media. Big Hollywood editor John Nolte argued that "The Undefeated" was a big success, ranking No. 15 in the all-time highest grossing debut category for political documentaries, an especially impressive number since most of the films ranked above the Palin documentary opened on more screens.

Nolte said the liberal media was jumping to all sorts of politically motivated conclusions. As he put it: "The dishonest MSM is  currently out there using words like 'tepid' and 'flop' and are desperate to not trip over their own well-groomed anti-Palin narratives by providing the proper context when it comes to these numbers; which clearly prove that for what it is -- a political documentary -- 'The Undefeated' is kicking all kinds of box-office ass when compared to its counterparts."

But Monday morning, Big Hollywood didn’t have any box-office coverage of the movie's second weekend in theaters, since, well, someone would have to be eating a lot of crow. The only news I could find was a press release saying that the film will be available on VOD Sept. 1, with a "special edition" DVD to follow in October. In fact, you don't have to be a wide-eyed lefty to see that "The Undefeated" is dead in the water.

Even conservative New York Post critic Kyle Smith was saying the same thing Monday, writing it off as a flop. He saw an early cut of the film and, as he put it, "warned the makers that it was a dog as loudly as I could." They responded by barring him from a critics' screening of the final cut, which goes to show, I guess, that conservative filmmakers can be just as touchy about criticism as liberal ones.

A 64% drop is bad news any way you spin it. By way of comparison, "Inside Job," the Oscar-winning liberal critique of the Wall Street financial meltdown, was only a modest box-office hit, but it went up five straight weeks after its opening weekend, buoyed by great word of mouth. Even though "The Undefeated," is designed to warm the hearts of Palin supporters everywhere, it hasn't been getting the kind of unrequited love it needs to cut it in the theaters. I get Palin fans are a lot like Tom Hanks followers these days -- they're willing to wait for the DVD to see their favorite star in action.

-- Patrick Goldstein


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Photo: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Portsmouth, N.H., in June. Credit: Brian Snyder / Reuters