Who's Watching the Palin Documentary?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 25 2011 8:11 AM

Who's Watching the Palin Documentary?

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Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

You remember that, don't you? The big Palin documentary? It's still in theaters. It expanded to 14 of them total, according to the tracking at Box Office Mojo. And it collapsed. The film made 63.2% less money than it did on its opening weekend, coming out to only $1,714 per screen. That's low for a documentary; it's comparable to how Bridesmaids is doing per screen in its 11th week. So far, the movie's made slightly more than $100,000, comparable to the little-seen 2006 Al Franken documentary, God Spoke. According to the filmmakers, this actually isn't so bad.

"We are very happy," director Steve Bannon tells me. "New markets were good, old markets were soft. We haven't put a penny of marketing money in back of the film yet; it's all social media and earned media. With the VOD/PPV rollout we start to get real marketing dollars in back of us."

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Last week, the film's promoters had been giving updated on excited, sold-out screenings. Less of that this week. We learned instead of the next distribution plans -- 250,000 DVDs being sent to stores on October 4, and Video on Demand starting September 1. Producer Glenn Bracken Evans explains:

This title is absolutely perfect for Video-on-Demand and Pay-Per-View backed by a traditional and significant marketing campaign. We are incredibly excited about having this film made available to the entire country earlier than expected. A traditional windowed release would not have allowed us to maximize viewership of this highly sought after film.

Realistically, though, how "highly sought after" can the movie be if roughly 10,000 people have actually sought it out and seen it? Before the movie rolled out, at one stage of the hysterical media speculation about it -- including a premiere in Iowa that brought out Palin and inspired a Newsweek cover story/interview -- we could speculate about a Going Rogue-style phenomenon, with conservatives flocking to the theaters that were showing this. It hasn't happened.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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