Friday, July 15, 2011

Sarah Palin propaganda movie debuts to empty theater

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Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best marketing move ever to schedule the release of Sarah Palin’s propaganda “documentary”, The Undefeated, on the same day that Harry Potter 7.5 hit the silver screen:

When the clock struck 12:01 am today, AMC theaters in select cities were permitted to start showing "The Undefeated," a feature length documentary about Sarah Palin. […]

As I approached, however, I realized that most people present were dressed in costume. The crowd was either showing ironic solidarity with Christine O'Donnell, the tea party candidate who is not a witch, or else everyone was there to see the Harry Potter movie playing on a majority of the theater's 30 screens. Without any way of telling Palin moviegoers from Potter fans dressed up like muggles, I'd have to pay, go to the assigned theater, and look for interviewees.

I hurried through the teenage hordes, bypassed a concession stand that sold 1,020 calories of soda for $5.25, and entered theater number 30, hoping I'd have ample time before the previews to talk to some people. But inside, the theater was empty. I sat there alone for 20 minutes, at which point an usher stuck his head in the door, gave me a quizzical smile, and said, "How come you're not watching Harry Potter?" Then he left me by myself again, and without any good answer.

It isn't strictly accurate to say that I sat through the whole movie alone. Just as the previews started, two young women walked in giggling together and took seats three rows behind me. Afraid that they'd ruined the only story I had at that point -- What If Sarah Palin Starred in a Movie and No One Showed Up? -- I hoped they'd at least oblige me with an interview, and so they did.

Jamie Watkins, 22, is a Missouri native, which qualifies her as a real American. She only recently moved to Southern California, and her little sister, Jessie, age 18, was visiting for the first time.

"So, um, what made you come out here tonight?"

"We're going to Disneyland tomorrow," Jamie said, "but she just got here, so we decided we should go out."

"We looked online for the latest movie playing," Jessie added. "But all the Harry Potters were sold out, and then we saw 'The Undeafeated.' We don't even actually know what we're seeing."

"Well welcome to California," I said. "You're about to see a documentary about Sarah Palin."

"Oh, really?" they said, and started giggling again. I think they were expecting an action flick. When I returned to my seat, I thought maybe I'd talk to them after the movie, and get the perspective of two people who went in with no expectations. But they only lasted 20 minutes before walking out.

I just love these closing lines:

Afterward, I found a theater manager, told him I was a reporter, and asked if he could give me numbers about ticket sales. "Did anyone pay and not show up?" He said that they'd sold out all the Harry Potter movies until 2 a.m., and that all 5,000 seats looked full. "No," I said, "I saw the Sarah Palin movie. Do you know the figures for that one?"

"Oh," he said, "I can't release sales figures."

"In hindsight, do you wish you'd had one more screen showing Harry Potter?"

He had no comment.


(via @ebertchicago)