Even its own film can’t save FIFA.
The self-financed movie “United Passions” failed to score at the box office, generating a pathetic $607 in the U.S. on its opening weekend.
The unfortunately-timed movie dramatizing the founding and history of the world governing body of soccer opened Friday in limited release in New York and nine other cities.
Even soccer-mad Europeans have avoided the on-screen debacle. The film premiered at last year’s Cannes film festival, but six months after its release in Europe had made just $190,000.
Tim Roth stars as FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was forced to retire last week following the arrest of numerous officials in Zurich and an FBI investigation into the process that led to the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. FIFA currently stands accused of taking over $150 million in bribes and reportedly has $1.5 billion in the bank.
“United Passions” also features Sam Neill as Blatter’s predecessor, João Havelange, and Gérard Depardieu as Jules Rimet.
FIFA had previously confirmed that it provided $22.2 million of the film’s $26.1 million budget and Blatter, is believed to have approved the script, reported The Guardian.
Reviews of “United Passions” provided strong indications that it would be a flop, with TheWrap’s Tim Appelo calling it “one of those rare films so unfathomably ghastly you could write a better one while sitting through its interminable 110 minutes.”
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw dubbed the film “pure cinematic excrement” and “preposterous hagiography,” meanwhile The New York Times concluded that it was “one of the most unwatchable films in recent memory, a dishonest bit of corporate-suite sanitizing that’s not good even for laughs.”
“There is barely a nod to the corruption scandals that have plagued FIFA for decades,” wrote reviewer Daniel M. Gold.
Even director Frédéric Auburtin admitted that production on the film was a nightmare. “Every time we are showing something about Blatter himself, it’s very, very difficult because the guy is the boss,” he told the Times. “The guy is co-producing more than half the film, nearly 80 percent.”