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Palin Documentaries Face a Tough Future

Palin Documentaries Face a Tough Future

The tale of two Sarah Palin documentaries: one that is decidedly pro-Palin and one that is reportedly the opposite. Either way, New York Magazine argues that the films will have a hard time making waves:

To be fair, docs are always a notoriously tricky niche in which to seek success, regardless of subject, and only a dozen have ever even grossed more than $13 million. (Four in this group came from lefty firebrand Michael Moore. The rest mostly star animals like penguins, lions, and Madonna.) And when it opens on July 15, The Undefeated will face another handicap: The audiences for documentaries are generally liberal, says Rocky Mountain Pictures principal Ron Rodgers, who released the 2008 pro-intelligent design documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (with star Ben Stein). “It’s hard to keep the attention of the faith-based audience,” says Rodgers. “Even with a faith-based message, they don’t like documentaries. [Expelled] performed poorly throughout the whole southeast – the whole Bible Belt was quite soft with it.”

Noted documentary provocateur Nick Broomfield has made the documentary which is supposedly critical of Palin, but even that may have a challenge reaching Michael Moore box office heights. Broomfield’s film is currently seeking distribution:

Those behind Broomfield’s untitled film are just as confident that their doc won’t cross party lines in the other direction. First, there’s the previously cited opinion that docs don’t play as well in red states; but more specifically, Broomfield’s spokesman says that the film will turn off right wingers “because it’s the truth.” Zing!

Ultimately, how it does depends on what kind of story Broomfield tells. “The films themselves have to work as movies,” insists John Lesher, the former head of Paramount Vantage, which distributed An Inconvenient Truth. “Al Gore’s story is as much a story of his personal redemption as it a story about the issue of the climate crisis.” Ninety minutes of people pointing out various ways that Sarah Palin is evil may be cathartic for haters, but not necessarily anything they want to pay for.

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