Chris Muir's Day By Day

Friday, October 07, 2011

I Won't Spend My Money On Your Agitprop

Hollywood finally begins realizing that politics in films can hurt the bottom line.

On Sept. 23, Morgan Freeman went on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight to proclaim that Tea Party opposition to President Obama "is a racist thing." The timing wasn't ideal, considering Dolphin Tale had opened that day and the film was tracking particularly well among conservatives, many of whom the star had suddenly maligned.

While only 627,000 people saw Freeman on CNN that night, millions soon viewed the clip as Drudge Report, Twitter, Facebook and other digital outlets turned it into a viral sensation -- not difficult given how partisan and personal politics have become in this run-up to the 2012 presidential election. "He belongs on my 'no pay, no watch' list after his latest, nearly hallucinatory raving," wrote one commenter on a conservative media site.

With Dolphin Tale opening with a strong $19.2 million that first weekend and finishing No. 1 with $13.9 million in its second, the financial impact of Freeman's comments is hard to quantify. But they did have an effect. In a far-ranging poll Penn Schoen Berland conducted for The Hollywood Reporter of 1,000 registered voters to gauge moviegoing tendencies of Democrats vs. Republicans, it's clear political allegiances have shifted entertainment viewing habits. Jon Penn, the firm's president of media and entertainment research, says that before Freeman's words, interest in Dolphin Tale was considerably higher among conservatives and religious moviegoers than among liberals. After the remarks, 34 percent of the conservatives who were aware of them, and 37 percent of Tea Partiers, said they were less likely to see the film -- but 42 percent of liberals said they were more likely. (Five days after Freeman's remarks, 24 percent of all moviegoers were aware of them.)

In fact, overall, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Tea Partiers consider a celebrity's political position before paying to see their films, compared with 20 percent of Democrats.

Many exhibitors say privately that they cringe when a star waxes politically just before one of their movies opens -- like when, seven weeks before Contagion, Matt Damon attended a Save Our Schools march where some attendees compared Republicans to "terrorists." Videos of Damon mocking conservatives for their fiscal policies spread like wildfire on the Internet.

"Of course it impacts box office," says Landmark Theatres owner Mark Cuban. "You just hope that for every member of one party that no-shows because of comments, another buys a ticket for the same reason."


If a particular actor, director or even writer has a problem with people like me and can't refrain from making it part of his/her film, then I'll certainly acknowledge the contempt shown by not supporting it with my entertainment dollars.

How say you? Do you go to movies (or buy music, or books) based on the politics (or lack of it) by the people involved with it?

Let's have a poll.

Do You Boycott Movies/Actors That Display Contempt Of Your Values?
Always
Almost Always. I might make an exception.
I just go to movies to make kids/date/spouse happy.
Message? I just want to see stuff blow up.
Last time I saw a movie they still called them "talkies."
  
pollcode.com free polls 

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