Talk about an own goal. United Passions, a movie about the Fédération Internationale de Football Association paid for largely by the same body, drew just $607 in a limited release on Friday and Saturday.
The film, which stars Tim Roth as the outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter and was dubbed by the The New York Times as “one of the most unwatchable” in recent years, opened in 10 theaters across the country this weekend in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Miami.
United Passions, directed by Frédéric Auburtin, presents a thinly fictionalized account of the happenings at the organization but reportedly fails to address the endemic corruption for which FIFA has become notorious — last week, nine FIFA officials were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for taking $150 million in bribes while awarding FIFA broadcast rights. Blatter was reelected for a fifth term two days after six FIFA executives were arrested on corruption charges in Zurich, before finally resigning a few days later.
Critics found much to take fault with in the $30 million movie, for which FIFA provided much of the funding: the age discrepancy and drastically different looks of Roth, 54, and Blatter, 79; the complete omission of any corruption scandals that have been following FIFA around for much longer than the past weeks; the lack of football footage in a movie about the world’s premiere football organization; the horrendous timing.
The Hollywood Reporter characterized it as “mainly [consisting] of endless scenes of suited businessmen having heated discussions in boardrooms” and ultimately deemed it “cringeworthy.” The Guardian, meanwhile, summed it up as “cinematic excrement.”
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