Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

FIFA-sponsored movie United Passions surprisingly not a blockbuster hit

Things really aren’t going well for the International Federation of Association Football. First, the U.S. indicted 14 people, including nine top FIFA officials, on corruption charges. Then soccer’s own Vito Corleone, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, promised to resign mere days after winning reelection. All those scandalous headlines coincide with the stateside release of United Passions, a film about FIFA largely bankrolled by soccer’s governing body. But, on the bright side, at least the Americans who caused all of FIFA’s problems would show up out of rubbernecking curiosity, right?

Nope— according to Reuters, the first U.S .theatrical screening of United Passions was attended by two people. According to the Guardian, the film ran in ten theaters for a weekend box office total of $607. (Apparently, we Americans prefer our villainous dictators driving monster trucks through post-apocalyptic wastelands to the sound of fire guitars.)


Starring Tim Roth as Blatter along with Gerard Depardieu, Sam Neill, and other, more obscure actors who will do anything for a paycheck, United Passions was an opportunity to reveal the greatest soccer story never told. Imagine unmasking FIFA with a Wolf Of Wall Street-style romp as officials traded wins and venues for bribes of drugs, sex, and cash in a global network of corruption that determined the outcome of hundreds of games, including World Cup matches. But out of United Passion’s $27 million budget, 90 percent was funded by FIFA itself, pretty much eliminating that possibility. Instead, the film explores the exciting, self-congratulatory world of honorable corporate vision, byzantine (but well-intentioned) regulatory oversight, and dizzying displays of international fiscal cooperation.

As of last October, the international gross for United Passions was less than $200,000, meaning it’s running at a loss of nearly $26.8 million dollars. Since you’re statistically unlikely to see United Passions, you might as well watch it get savaged by John Oliver. For reference, this YouTube excerpt from HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has approximately 11 million more views than the film.

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