Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” drew a lukewarm response from moviegoers, ranking 15th at the box office in its first weekend of wide release and earning tepid reviews from audiences.
The sequel to Mr. Gore’s influential 2006 climate-change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” has earned about $1 million since its limited release July 28, prompting one critic to say Paramount Pictures “effectively sabotaged” the rollout.
“This was not supposed to happen,” said writer D.R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly.
In a Monday post headlined “Al Gore Gets Ripped Off Again,” he said Paramount had botched the nationwide release with its two-weekend platform strategy, instead of seizing on anti-Trump momentum to whip up enthusiasm with a splashy one-weekend launch.
“Paramount apparently couldn’t be bothered to aggressively promote ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ as the movie Trump and [EPA administrator] Scott Pruitt didn’t want you to see — and giving American audiences a decent chance to see it,” Mr. Tucker said. “By failing to do so, the studio effectively undercut its own product.”
Although documentaries rarely perform as well as feature films at the box office, Mr. Tucker pointed out that Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” opened at No. 1 after a “high-profile national rollout” in 2004.
“Sadly, the box-office underperformance of ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ will be seized upon by climate-change deniers as ‘proof’ that Americans don’t really care about this issue,” Mr. Tucker said.
He’s right: Prominent climate skeptic Anthony Watts has already dubbed the movie “an inconvenient bomb,” while the website Climate Depot was rife with posts about the film’s poor performance.
Mr. Gore himself raised expectations by urging activists to buy tickets and pack theaters in order to send a message to the Trump administration.
“By filling theaters, we can show Donald Trump and the other climate deniers in the White House that the American people are committed to climate action –– no matter what they do, say, or tweet!” Mr. Gore said in an Aug. 4 tweet.
The sequel still has time to find an audience. Paramount plans to ramp up the number of screens next weekend to 500, up from 180 at its Friday initial wide release, reported Deadline Hollywood.
The original only collected $1.3 million in its first two weekends before taking off and earning $24 million, making it the 11th top-grossing U.S. documentary in history, according to Box Office Mojo.
At the same time, moviegoers may be voting with their feet. So far audiences have indicated that the sequel isn’t on par with the original, which won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
The first film drew a healthy 78 percent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while only 50 percent of audiences have said they liked “An Inconvenient Sequel,” along with 77 percent of critics.
While “An Inconvenient Truth” was credited with putting the global-warming issue on the political map, the sequel has been criticized as a “vanity project” and “victory lap” for the former vice president, who has become the face of the climate-change movement, for better or for worse.
Mr. Gore has promoted the movie relentlessly with numerous television appearances and a trip to Australia, but he also drew ridicule last week after a report said his Nashville mansion consumes 21 times more electricity than the average U.S. home.
“Clearly, Gore is unwilling to practice what he preaches,” said David A. Ridenour, president of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, which conducted the study.
The former vice president continued to plug the movie over the weekend on social media with help from friends like actress Helen Hunt, who gave the film a thumbs-up.