Welcome to the 2012 Election Day edition of “Going Bionic.” Since winning 270 electoral votes today is a greater feat than championing the weekend box office, we’re examining films about elections. There are several poignant, politically charged celluloid dreams to choose from, but our focus today is comedic and thought provoking depictions of the election process. From a high school scandal to a t-shirt campaign, to our nation’s fate hanging in the balance over one man’s decision, these pictures depict the nature of elections in a creative, clever and sometimes socially crass manner. In other words, they do it right! So, without further ado, here is how some election-related films faired in the “Cinematic Electoral College.”
The Campaign (2012)
Released on August 10, 2012, “The Campaign” was #2 at the box office when it earned $26,588,460 on 3,205 theaters (that’s a $8,296 per screen average). This Jay Roach directed Will Farrell comedy has earned $86,744,503 at the domestic office, with an additional $12,133,299 internationally, totaling $98,877,802 worldwide. “The Campaign” ranks #1 all time of political campaign and or election films.
Swing Vote (2008)
Released on August 1, 2008, on 2,213 screens, this Kevin Costner starrer came in #6 box office when it earned $6,230,669 over its opening weekend (that’s a $2,815 per screen average). The picture grossed $16,289,687 at the domestic box office and $1,344,446 overseas, which gave it a total of $17,634,313 worldwide. Unfortunately, the production budget was $21 million, so the “vote” didn’t swing toward success.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
This beautifully odd, crazy little picture not only gave us Jon Heder, but it made the “Vote for Pedro” a part of our socially hip vernacular. “Napoleon Dynamite” also had an explosion that no bundle of dynamite could ever match. This $400,000 film was sold at Sundance to Fox Searchlight for $4,500,000. Then, after investing an additional $3,000,000 in prints and advertising, Fox Searchlight guided “Napoleon Dynamite” to $44,540,956 at the domestic box office. With an additional $1,577,141 overseas, the film earned $46,118,097 worldwide. Originally released on June 11, 2004, “Napoleon Dynamite” earned $116,666 on six screens over its opening weekend (that’s a highly impressive per screen average of $19,444). The film’s widest release was 1,027 theatrical screens.
Alexander Payne’s wonderfully inventive, $8.5 million budgeted film starred Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. “Election” earned $119,080 when it was released on six screens on April 23, 1999, which is a satisfying $19,806 per screen average. The picture went wide on May 7, 1999, and earned $14,943,542 at the domestic box office. After earning an additional $2,107,489 internationally, “Election” totaled $17,051,071 at the worldwide box office. While the picture came close to achieving breakeven through its theatrical efforts, DVD and ancillary sales helped “Election” become a winner as a financial investment. More importantly, it launched Alexander Payne, which is more valuable than a bit of profit.
This Warren Beatty gem earned $141,816 when it was released on two screens on its opening weekend of May 15, 1998 (a staggering $70,908 per screen average). The picture then became #4 at the box office over the weekend of May 22, when it earned $10,515,839 on 2,047 screens (a $5,137 per screen average). “Bulworth” went on to earn $26,528,185 domestically, and an additional $2,674,699 internationally, giving it a total of $29,202,884 at the worldwide box office. However, the film had a production budget of $30,000,000. Thankfully, “Bulworth” was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, which added value to the film for DVD sales and ancillary markets.
In closing, I hope your candidate of choice wins the election tonight, but only if you exercised your right to vote! I thank you once again for lending my your eyes (especially on Election Day 2012) and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.