Political Success of 'The Undefeated' In No Way Tied to Box-Office Performance

Over the weekend, everyone waited to hear the box office results of the new documentary film “The Undefeated,” and for good reason. Those of us interested in truth are understandably invested in seeing anything succeed that finally sets the record straight about Governor Sarah Palin and those on the Left, along with their corrupt MSM allies, would love to dance on the grave of anything that exposes the lies they’ve told about the Governor over the last three years. The good news (for truth-seekers) is that with almost no paid advertising, the film opened very well and is expanding its theatrical release in the coming weeks.

But how well the film does business-wise is not really connected to the impact the film has already had and will continue to have in the political world — which is why I completely (and respectfully) disagree with Ed Morrissey’s closing assessment of the film’s box office performance over at Hot Air:

The bigger question will be how long the film sustains itself at the box office. After all, Palin needs more than just the already-convinced to go see this film. For the film to have the political impact Whittington suspects, it has to draw Palin agnostics and Palin skeptics into the theater. The measure for success there won’t be first-weekend metrics, but second-, third-, and fourth-weekend metrics. We can expect Palin’s fans to rush to theaters when the film opens (especially given its limited release), but if people are still buying tickets in significant numbers four weeks later at these theaters, that will mean that the film has broken out beyond the Palin base. We’ll know the answer to that by mid-August at the latest.

In fairness to Morrissey, he’s not the only one saying this, but tying political impact to butts-in-seats, especially with respect to “The Undefeated,” makes little sense to me

For the last three years, the MSM and GOP establishment have only wanted us talking about Levi Johnston, tanning beds, and how much Bill Maher hates her — rather than Governor Palin’s many, many measurable accomplishments as a governor and mayor. And so politically, what matters more than anything — including box office — is the impact “The Undefeated” will have on the news narrative and our national political conversation. If the film manages to refocus (and I would argue it already has) potential voters on the Governor’s dynamic and successful public service record the media has intentionally covered up, that’s a “political” success.

This is what I wrote just last week about this very subject:


The key to the ultimate effectiveness of a documentary like “The Undefeated” is more than just how many people see it or even who those people are. Certainly that matters to some degree, but so does how the very existence of the documentary changes the national political conversation. Naysayers of the “The Undefeated” dismiss the film’s impact by telling us that only Palinistas are going to bother to buy tickets. In other words, since the film preaches to the choir there will be no new converts. Intentionally or not, that’s a fairly simplistic declaration that doesn’t take into account how the film will impact the political news narrative — an impact that’s already apparent to anyone paying attention.

And I wrote that even before Newsweek came out with this.

Where Morrissey and others are wrong is in the thinking that the only way you’ll feel the film’s influence is through the purchase of an admission — which begs the question: Is $5 million in box office a political success? $10 million? $25 million? I’ll turn the argument around to better make my point. By any standard, should “The Undefeated” reach $25 million, it would be considered a roaring success. However…

…that’s still only around 3 million paying customers and could still be dismissed as Palin’s”base, no?

Anyone watching the news media right now can already see the film’s positive impact. We are now, and for the first time ever, finally being told about about this potential presidential candidate’s actual governing record. And coupled with the completely botched MSM email witch hunt and a successful bus tour — both of which, Palin’s team handled beautifully — the Governor is enjoying more positive and accurate news cycles than ever before.

There is no force on earth that could get me to watch a two-hour documentary about anyone other than a handful of politicians. But that doesn’t mean the film’s message couldn’t impact me through the news reporting. And in the case of the “The Undefeated,” what we have right now is a political documentary sucking a lot of oxygen out of the news room. We haven’t seen anything like this, really, since “Fahrenheit 9/11” — a film that was a box office sensation, designed with defeating Bush in mind, and failed to do so.

So much for box-office equaling voter impact.

“The Undefeated” is already a success because as I write this –kicking and screaming the whole way — the MSM is already having the very last discussion about Sarah Palin they wanted to have. In fact, because of the film, they started having that conversation weeks before it played on a single commercial screen.

Today, the MSM is talking, spinning, and outright lying about how a film with next to no advertising budget and only a few weeks to make it happen, managed to clear a very respectable per screen average its first week out. That’s a great thing, but whatever the grosses ending up being, the message is already out there.

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