Gun-control melodrama Miss Sloane has bombed at the box office.
Well, no. That understates it. Howard the Duck and Ishtar bombed. Miss Sloane was dropped from a single B-29, and like that iconic single bomb, has a decent shot at helping to bring a war to an end.
After lavish television advertising – Miss Sloane had a bigger TV budget than the inescapable Rogue One – and fawning reviews from liberal critics and media, the movie earned $3.2 million dollars. Which, divided by the number of screens and a $10 ticket price, meant an average of around ten people attending each showing.
And it wasn’t for lack of trying to get people to show up. Out of the 200 highest-grossing movies of 2016, only ten exceeded the $15.9 million television advertising budget of Miss Sloane, and seven of those did so by very small amounts. Miss Sloane spent more than the Star Wars spinoff Rogue One, Star Trek, Pete’s Dragon, Arrival, Doctor Strange, and Hacksaw Ridge. It had twice the advertising budget of such hits as Sully, The Girl on the Train, and The Secret Life of Pets. For every dollar spent on advertising, Miss Sloane brought in just 21 cents in ticket sales. By this measure, it came in dead last out of the 200 top-grossing movies in 2016. No one else was even close. Coming in second-to-last was Collateral Beauty, which made 53 cents per advertising dollar. The average movie made almost $2 for each dollar spent on advertising.
Of course, the movie’s core conceit – that gun grabbers are a bunch of plucky, underfunded underdogs, duking it out with a “gun lobby” that is floating in money – is a preposterous fiction. Michael Bloomberg and other anti-gun plutocrats fund the “safe criminal” movement lavishly.
For example, here in Minnesota during the 2016 campaign, groups affiliated with the safe criminal lobby spent well over a million dollars – easily ten times as much as the Human Rights movement did – and employed at least four full-time paid staffers. Not a single person in Minnesota is paid to lobby the legislature or organize the community; the movement is entirely volunteers, working on their own time out of pure devotion to the Bill of Rights. In other states – Nevada, Washington, Maine – the spending ratio was closer to 30 to 1.
I suspect most Americans can tell the movie doesn’t pass the stink test; Sloane’s premise reeks like a full pea-soup diaper on a dog day in the bayou.
And its failure is of a piece with the collapse, over the past fifteen years, of nearly every single Hollywood anti-war movie.
When I saw the trailer – during one of my ever-so-brief episodes of watching broadcast TV – I heard the trailer in the background. I think it was the normally-excellent Sam Waterson, playing one of the “gun lobby” bad guys. I think I envisioned a character wearing a black cape and top hat, twisting a painstakingly-maintained handlebar mustache as he tied Ms. Chastain…er, Sloane to the tracks. I actually laughed out loud.
But hey, Hollywood; keep ’em coming.