Box Office Fail: Flag-Free ‘First Man’ Flops

Daniel McFadden/Universal Studios

First Man tanked at the box office, coming in well below expectations, with just a $16.2 million opening weekend.

At worst, the story of Neil Armstrong’s historic trip to the moon was projected to do much better, anywhere between $19 million and $21 million. Keep in mind, though, that those projections are usually downplayed as a means to save face and to inspire free publicity when a film over-performs.

In other words, $16 million is a catastrophe for a movie that probably cost $100 million to $125 million to produce and publicize.

Directed by Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle, First Man roared out of elite film festivals with a ton of buzz and rave reviews. The movie took a big tumble, though, when moviegoers learned that one of the most iconic moments of the last century was arrogantly removed for touchy-feely and oh-so woke globalist purposes.

First Man tells the story of astronaut Armstrong and the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that ensured his place in history as the first man to walk on the moon. This was not only a triumph for Armstrong, his pilot Buzz Aldrin, and NASA, it was the single most important moment of the Space Race, which itself was a hugely important battle in the overall Cold War.

In the late ’50s and early ’60s, the Soviets were kicking American butt, which was a much bigger deal than a blow to U.S. pride. After Russia launched the first satellite and man into space, it was President John F. Kennedy who understood the existential stakes and directed NASA to do the impossible.

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” Kennedy famously said in late 1962.

But in a Special Message to Congress the previous year, just months after assuming office, Kennedy made clear to lawmakers that the Space Race was something bigger than bragging rights.

“If we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take,” Kennedy wrote.

“Now it is time to take longer strides — time for a great new American enterprise — time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth,” he added.

After explaining how far ahead the Soviets were, Kennedy urged Congress to understand the importance of this in the larger picture.

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” Kennedy urged. “No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space, and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

And this is why the planting of the American flag on the moon is so important. Not out of some sense of patriotism (though that matters), not for jingoistic reasons, and not even for American reasons. As Kennedy so eloquently put it, with the whole world watching, the planting of that flag was about the choices people would make between tyranny and freedom, about which side they would choose.

America did not win the Space Race only for Americans, we defeated the evil Soviets to send a message to the whole world.

And this is why the clueless explanations surrounding the omission of this moment are not only tone deaf, but reflect a shocking ignorance of what Armstrong’s mission, a mission he volunteered for, was all about.

Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong said, “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it.”

Chazelle tried to dig his way out with this rubbish, “I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA.”

It is simply absurd for Chazelle to argue that Armstrong’s “memories” would omit the inspiration behind the Apollo 11 mission, the key moment that solidified the whole reason for it. Everything Armstrong and his fellow pioneers risked their lives for was about getting to that moment, and the omission of that moment is not only arrogance on the part of Chazelle and his screenwriter, it informs us that this a story told by storytellers who are way out of their depth.

Yes, as has been tirelessly noted by reactionaries, there are other shots of Old Glory in First Man, but this argument is insulting and condescending, as though we are just a bunch of censorious rubes counting shots of the flag. Our criticism, though, is not about some hollow rush of shallow patriotism at the sight of the stars and stripes, it is about TRUTH, about what matters, about accuracy, and most of all, it is about what Neil Armstrong and these other brave men risked and lost their lives for.

As we have come to expect from the corrupt entertainment media, no one dares suggest that the omission of the planting of the American flag might have had something to do with the box office failure, but of course it did…

To begin with, to put it as simply as possible, I think the American people are just tired of this shit, tired of Hollywood celebrating every culture in the world while denigrating ours. Hollywood enjoys the best of America — wealth, fame, personal freedom, artistic freedom — they are the freest and most spoiled culture in the history of the world, and still they shit all over of us — and we are sick of it.

Who wants to waste a Friday night and $50 to sit through yet-another clueless act of narcissism, 140 minutes of smug pretension and ignorance and ingratitude.

Thanks to New Media, the era of the sucker punch is over. We know what these charlatans are up to before we drop our hard-earned money.

We don’t hate Hollywood, we are just hating them back.

There’s a difference.

P.S. Check out Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff, his 1983 masterpiece about the Mercury 7 astronauts and a reminder that Hollywood used to be great.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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