FINAL REVISED UPDATE: with the complete weekend box-office figures now available, it is now clear that the film had the WORST opening for ANY film in wide release (2500+ theaters) in at least thirty years, or since data is available.UPDATE: "Won't Back Down" had the second worst opening weekend of any film in wide release (2500 screens or more) since 1982. The only worry is whether the right-wing producer, Philip Anschutz, will keep it in the theaters since he also owns the largest movie chain in the nation. And will Murdoch, the distributor, keep financing free screenings and claim them as tax-deductible contributions, to be able to offset some of his losses? Anyone who has a thought on this, please leave a comment below.
The reviews are out, the box office returns have been counted and it's clear that the pro-charter propaganda film "Won't Back Down" is a huge critical and commercial flop.
All the advance screenings sponsored by astroturf corp reform groups and the film's distributor, Rupert Murdoch, the big push by CBS and Walmart, the promotion by NBC's Education Nation, the multi-million dollar advertising campaign financed by right-wing producer Philip Anschutz, and Students First sending in their staffers to write glowing reviews didn't bring people into the theaters. One assessment says it is likely to be one of the worst openings for a film ever, with an estimated gross of only $82 per screening in its first weekend.
Many of the critics' reviews mentioned the obvious political motives behind the film as part of an orchestrated campaign to blame all the ills of our schools on teachers unions and to privatize our public schools through the use of a "Parent Trigger." For once reality seemed to penetrate the well-financed PR fog surrounding these issues. Check out also this excellent radio show on the the deceptive "Parent Trigger" -- or as some call it, "the parent tricker" -- including interviews with several parent activists, including me. The most interesting is perhaps the parent from Adelanto CA, who describes how the staffers from the astroturf organization Parent Revolution went in and told parents they were signing petitions for cleaner bathrooms rather than conversion to a charter school.
The truth is that most parents do not want to close their schools or turn them over to private corporations, where parents are apt to have even less voice and their children fewer rights. For more on what parents really want, check out my piece in Friday's SchoolBook, Parents Want Options Beyond a Trigger.