Sadly, authorities moved on FIFA too late to stop the organization from committing its most heinous crime of all: an assault on the box office.
No doubt, there was a little extra buzz surrounding the release of United Passions, the FIFA-financed (which is to say fan-financed) celluloid festival of back-slapping hubris. Turns out the buzz was more like tinnitus: a persistently annoying hum that you wish would just go away.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film earned $607 on Friday and Saturday from its debut in 10 theaters, which wouldn’t even cover one night in the Baur Au Lac hotel. A theater in Phoenix reported $9 in sales – that’s one ticket. Who is this lone individual in Arizona? He or she must be found immediately, and offered counseling. Or at the very least, something better to do in Phoenix on a weekend.
The plot of United Passions is summarized as: “Three men—Jules Rimet (Gérard Depardieu), Joao Havelange (Sam Neill) and Sepp Blatter (Tim Roth)—establish FIFA and help make the World Cup the most popular sporting event in the world.”
Sure, great cast, but doesn’t sound like a compelling narrative, does it? And what’s gone wrong in Roth’s career? From Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction to portraying Blatter?
Here’s a sample of the Guardian’s review:
“Even without the current headlines, United Passions is a disgrace. It’s less a movie than preposterous self-hagiography, more appropriate for Scientology or the Rev Sun Myung Moon. As cinema it is excrement. As proof of corporate insanity it is a valuable case study.”
And that was one of the more generous assessments. The film has a Metacritic score of 1 (out of 100). That’s two thumbs down and a cleat to the genitalia.
Since the film cost a reported $30 million to make, its prospects of breaking even are not looking good. What a waste of money that could have been secretly funneled to senior executives as bribes to determine World Cup hosts. Anyway, if you really want an insight into how FIFA works, just watch The Godfather.