The Big Question: How Many People Will See W. This Weekend?
by Alex Billington
October 17, 2008
A mere 18 days before the election, Oliver Stone's W. has hit theaters. And it's the question of the week - will anyone go see W. this weekend? Does anyone know the answer? Admittedly, Lionsgate has done a fantastic job of promoting it and building buzz in such short notice - they first picked up the distribution rights on May 10th. But will that buzz actually translate in sold out auditoriums and interested moviegoers? I'm not sure even I can come up with a good answer and I've even already seen it! Hell, I've even lost track of my initial thoughts due to a barrage of information surrounding this very question hitting all at once. But we'll try and look at this step-by-step, before the official box office results start to trickle in.
First things first, let's get my thoughts on W. out of the way. Even though Josh Brolin gives a phenomenal performance as George W. Bush, the film felt like one big novelty act. It felt like something I'd ever only watch once, just for the experience of saying I've seen it. The story was rather convoluted and contained only elements and stories from his life that we aren't all entirely familiar with already. It was as if Oliver Stone threw down pieces of tile to put together to make a shiny new kitchen floor, but never finished the job. The strengths are with Brolin as Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, and a few other supporting cast members. The weaknesses are with Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, Elizabeth Banks as a much-too-attractive Laura Bush, and Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell. But all that is besides the point.
W. is critic proof, or so I think? With the buzz its built, it should draw considerable crowds purely based on interest, although some polls seem to say otherwise. MovieTickets.com's weekly poll, which asked buyers if they planned on seeing W., had a shocking result - 63% said they were not planning on seeing it. Over on Fandango, W. only accounts for 12% of all early ticket sales, well below the 56% that are going towards High School Musical 3. Of those who had bought tickets, 67% said they want to see it because of Oliver Stone's reputation as a controversial filmmaker and 34% said they voted for George W. Bush in a previous election. If anything, that shows that republicans who may be Bush supporters in real life aren't too interested.
Initially I might speculate that because W. has built up quite a bit of buzz surrounding so many of its controversial aspects (casting, story, etc.), it could be a stronger contender for a big opening weekend. But it's a film with such a varied audience, that I really don't know if I can legitimately make that claim. Add our dwindling economy and and low attendance rates into the mix, and I'm even more worried. Will too many people perceive this as a novelty act (as I mentioned above) and push it aside until after the election? Or an even better question to ask - do moviegoers even look at this as a movie they must see? I have a good feeling most people get a kick out of talking about it, but they don't care to actually go see it, at least not in theaters.
To be completely honest, I'm entirely unsure of how to answer this question. I'd rather sit back and wait for the box office results to come in and analyze what happened afterwards. But I'm also too interested in the buzz that this has built to wait until that happens. Everyone is going to spend the rest of the day today reading reviews from critics everywhere. All of the them will say the same thing - that the film needed some additional work, but Josh Brolin's performance is top notch. I doubt that kind of criticism is going to help the movie, but I doubt it's going to hurt it either. But it could give it the final push it needs for audiences that last saw The Dark Knight to finally make it back out to their local movie theater.
I know I'll be patiently awaiting the box office results late in the evening on Friday. There's more at stake here than seeing whether Lionsgate made a good decision to buy the distribution rights. On top of all the questions surrounding the potential impact W. could have on the upcoming election, there is its political factor and controversial factor. Can a biopic about a president that is still in office actually do well financially? Will too many audience members perceive the film as a documentary on George W. Bush and not look at it as pure entertainment? There are too many questions and not enough answers. In due time we'll know the truth, but for now, this all just speculation - I think W. might flop this weekend.
Reader Feedback - 39 Comments
McCain wins election miraculously by a small margin and the USA goes to hell.
Ken Masters on Oct 17, 2008
after 8 years .. u think that people still gonna vote the Republicans?
CowBoy dA 3rd on Oct 17, 2008
I am calling less than 10 million on it.
Atomic Popcorn on Oct 17, 2008
Extremely intrigued, but it's already saved on my Netlfix queue. I can wait. Even still. . . .no matter what movie, it'd suck to have your ass handed to you by High School Musical 3. That's just way too embarrassing on far too many levels.
Voice Of Reason on Oct 17, 2008
I think it's going to bomb. I don't know anyone who is interested in seeing it regardless of party.
janet on Oct 17, 2008
In Italy we had (on a smaller scale of course) a movie "dedicated" to our actual (unfortunately) prime minister Berlusconi (a great Bush friend!) under elections... and did not bring much luck to the left party as you can imagine. Hope is not the case of W. for Obama! The movie is the beautiful "Il Caimano" directed from Nanni Moretti not totally focused on Berlusconi but in a good part.
Flavio on Oct 17, 2008
I would have to agree with number three. I think that Oliver Stone will be very disappointed when W doesnt perform up to what he thought it would. I think people on both sides of the fence would probably go see it if it wasnt so one sided. Directed by a liberal, starring a liberal, with a liberal playing the vice president. Documentaries are only effectve when they are unbiased and the portray both sides or stories of an issue.
Chris Henry on Oct 17, 2008
So... all this politics - and go see a movie about it? No thanks. I've had it up to /\ there with politics. Wholeheartedly agree with #3 & 7 as well.
bozoconnors on Oct 17, 2008
Heck ya i want to see this. i want to see how stupid and dumb the pass president was... oh wait i already know.. hmm why would i want to see this then? 🙂
Max Russian on Oct 17, 2008
my money is on max payne. probably my parents would see it
darrin on Oct 17, 2008
I think W won't be a big box office success. the movie will sell more dvd's then theater tickets
CowBoy dA 3rd on Oct 17, 2008
Yea, who are you voting for Henry? Your comment concerning docs is way off base. But considering your hatred for the left, you make sense only to your self, or other Right Wing facists. One sided? That comment is off as well. Have you seen it? Do you have a bootleg of "W". The Right won't see it because there ashamed. And the left is too busy trying to win an election. ( The most important in our lifetimes.) It will not do well this weekend, however......When your going up against talking dogs, a video game, a Western and singing HS students.....What do you expect?
vote4changepatriot on Oct 17, 2008
Mayne ya'll crack me up with liberal this, conservative that, right, this, left that, right wing facists, republican vs democrat. We're all just people who care about our families, friends and direction of the country. All that talk is nothing more than a way to talk shit to one another and stay divided. I personally agree with #3 and #4 that W. is gonna bomb at the theater, but I'll have it in my blockbusters que waiting to arrive one day when I've totally forgot about it. Alex, why doesn't Firstshowing write articles on ethnic films? Yall haven't done any reviews on a black films and thats just terrible.
Kilo Alpha on Oct 17, 2008
I'll definitely be seeing it this weekend...John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher all loved it...which I know doesn't entice the right to see it, but should help persuade some more of the left.
Peloquin on Oct 17, 2008
It will have a good run in theaters, but I think it's real success is going to come on dvd, and mostly on the tube. Television producers will love this - Excluding Fox of course.
Eric on Oct 17, 2008
Doesn't interest me in the slightest. We already know he's an asshole!
K on Oct 17, 2008
I'm going to Max Payne (reluctantly) this weekend. I hope to catch this one next weekend. All the clips I've seen from "W." have looked pretty nice. FWIW, I can view a movie and leave my political leanings at the door. I wish the conservatives who ripped apart Wall-E could do the same. 🙂
kevjohn on Oct 17, 2008
Peloquin on Oct 17, 2008
I'll be seeing this because of the buzz around Brolin despite my reservations about Oliver Stone.
Liz on Oct 17, 2008
Let me rephrase what 12 apparantly failed to understand. People on both sides of the fence already know that President Bush is a dumbass. Like a 1st grader in a suit. So why would anyone go to see a movie that emphasizes what we already know. Im not siding with anyone. Even if i disagree with many of Bush's policies i dont want to go see a movie where the one sided cast tells me stuff i already know
Chris on Oct 17, 2008
I figure if the movie has any opportunity to make some money, it's now. I don't think I've ever seen more buzz about politics or seen as many people energized about it either.
Will S. (Co Springs) on Oct 17, 2008
In case anyone wants to watch something kick ass... http://www.empireonline.com/video/push2/
K on Oct 17, 2008
I think there are going to be a lot of people who are going to want to watch this movie. It looks to have mixed reviews on Holywood.com's W the movie homepage. Some say it's a good movie, others say it was boring. By the sound of the user reviews, it seems somewhat balanced.
Indian Jim on Oct 17, 2008
No Chris...you did it again. "i dont want to go see a movie where the one sided cast tells me stuff i already know". I thought Thandie was from England? And the left does not need to be enticed to see it as said.....And when does speaking out label you as a Liberal? Maybe a Patriot, not a Liberal.And NO Kilo...."they" DO NOT care about you or me or our families....I think that is evident by the last 8 years.
D-9 on Oct 17, 2008
I don't think it's going to do well. I do plan on seeing it in about a week or so, I'm not too pumped about it.
tzarinna on Oct 17, 2008
@ #24 - Agreed if I understand your position correctly. -- Personally, I can't stand when people (comedians / directors) make fun of stuff like this (government). Making fun of these [Extreme Language]s just feels completely wrong after all the shit they've done to this country. Making fun of the things the government says or does is like making fun of rape, because that's exactly what they've done to this country as well as other countries. And I'm talking about both republicans and democrats - there's no difference between the two these days. None of these people actually care about the country or us. Congress never actually reads the bills they pass or listens to public outcry (Ex: Patriot Act), the Executive Branch never actually listens to anything anyone else has to say (Ex: Withdraw Troops), and the Supreme Court makes up their own rules whenever they want. All the government cares about is money and continuing to hold power over some section of land. And even them caring about money seems iffy nowadays. All the things they're doing to "save" the economy with the stock market crashing daily is actually what's making it spin in the toilet. Bailouts and rate changes are just prolonging the inevitable, and the longer it takes to get to whatever will ultimately happen, the worst it will be for everyone. So, this is why I will never see this movie and why I refuse to watch Saturday Night Live.
Zso on Oct 17, 2008
10-30 million easily.
Al on Oct 17, 2008
sorry, but I cant justify spending the $$$ or the time to go see ANYTHING about this miserable SOB...there is nothing humorous about the damage that has been done by this moron...I hope the movie falls on its ass...
cornholio_by_the_sea on Oct 17, 2008
#28 Youre exactly the american mindset right now. But instead of not going to watch it everybody is going to go out and try and fin another way to hate this below average president. The fact that it generated so much controversy is the biggest drawing point of the whole idea. In summary, stop whining about the president. He was a better option than Kerry for sure.
Allen Sharpe on Oct 18, 2008
What a dissapointment! I did not learn anything I allready knew from reading and researching this man for the last 8 years. Good performances. ( Thandie Newton was great but Uuuuugly!) But I wanted more information. Stone had his shot and did not take it. Repeat right Wingers DID NOT TAKE IT! I mean it was like it was a direct shot from all the books that have been printed these past years. And the crowd for the 10 was about 45. You almost felt sorry for him the way Channey and Rumsfield manipulated him. I mean a true story. This was not a HATE film like many are making out. (BTW, my Wife fell asleep)
D-9 on Oct 18, 2008
OMG! Have to agree with 30. The sruggle to appease his father is like many of us have had to do, or another sibling being sometimes thought of as the "favorite". There were no attacks or cheap shots taken, and I was amazed listening to others thinking Stone would use this as a hate vendetta on Bushy. He did not. I went to the 6 PM show and maybe there were 50 or so in attendance. But 29, you even have to agree. If Kerry did win the last election, or like it was proven like Gore before did win we would have not had Kerry in the mix, we would not be in IRAQ spening 10 BILLION a month as our economy goes down the shitter, and our brave soldiers are losing their lives, minds, and being scarred for life.......OVER OIL. I am just saying.
patriotbuff on Oct 19, 2008
Seriously, you thought this was going to pull in Dark Knight's aud? What are you on?
Lincoln on Oct 19, 2008
It's not that the film was just a novelty, it's that people prefer ESCAPIST entertainment. They don't want to be reminded about the real world when they go see a movie. Very few fact based non-fiction non-action films make a boatload of cash.
Lincoln on Oct 19, 2008
All films in this genre have bombed.
Lincoln on Oct 19, 2008
I pass on this one..not interested.
Bry from Chi on Oct 19, 2008
No one said anyting about box office success, just thought people would like to get a sample of the audience on opening night. Sure it is the same everywhere. And I viewed this not for entertainment. It was to learn something new. I did not.
D-9 on Oct 19, 2008
I'm gonna see this only because of Josh Brolin... & I review films.
790 on Oct 19, 2008
Next he's moving on to "Palin", starring Tina Fey. I'll definitely see this, as I am always amazed by actors immersing themselves completely in a part, as Josh Brolin evidently did for this. For those crying "bomb", Stone knew what he was doing, and made this film on the cheap, in an inexpensive locale w/ a small cast & production crew, editing it in a record time-crunch. I'll expect an impressive telenovella, and perhaps if Stone has the stones, an extended cut on a dvd. The point is the movie had to come out now, to have any of the intended impact. It's almost like he made the movie on a dare. Still, the team who pulled Wall Street together reuniting to make good on a bet w/ Brolin is STILL way more promising than the Maximum Pain in the Ass they were billed against.
djo on Oct 20, 2008
Josh Brolin did a convincing Dubya, though he reminded me a lot of his cowboy character from No Country for Old Men... over all, i don't doubt that 'W.' will have the effect Oliver Stone desired
movie fan on Oct 24, 2008
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