Won't Back Down, the new teachers'-union-bashing movie starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, was released this weekend. So ... how did it do at the box office?
Won't Back Down ... could only muster a $2.7 million debut this weekend (good for 10th place). That's the second-worst opening ever for a movie in 2,500+ locations -- The Rocker holds the record at $2.64 million. Distributor 20th Century Fox clearly realized they had a dud on their hands a while ago....You remember The Rocker, don't you?
Won't Back Down flopped almost as spectacularly.
But is this an underappreciated masterpiece? Um, no. It "is to school reform what 'Reefer Madness' is to drug policy" (Minneapolis Star Tribune). It "fears nuance, pushes an agenda and demonizes its opposition" (Newsday). Its "suggestions for improving K-12 education include having kids wish themselves into college using 'The Secret.' Yeah, that should do it" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). It imagines that if "greedy unions and soulless administrators" would "just get out of the way, we'd have joyously creative elementary schools where ukulele-wielding teachers (in this case, Oscar Isaac) would finally be able to put in unpaid extra hours to help our struggling kids succeed" (Detroit Metro Times). A ukelele? Seriously?
Salon's Andrew O'Hehir reminds us that "the whole project was financed by conservative Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz, also the moneybags behind the documentary 'Waiting for "Superman,"' which handled a similar agenda...."
There was a full-page ad for the movie in today's New York Times -- but I'm surprised the studio didn't just bypass the big cities and try to sell this to Fox-addled, liberal-loathing right-wing crazies in Podunk and Bugtussle. Didn't that strategy work for 2016, the Dinesh D'Souza "documentary" about Obama? But I guess Anschutz and the studio (Fox, naturally) assumed the general public had already reached the union-hate tipping point. Guess not.