"United Passions," FIFA's self-produced film, flopped worse than FIFA's attempts to get America into soccer.
America is just not a soccer country. We think of it as a children's game. We call the sport by a completely different name that the rest of the world. We don't respect soccer. Hell, because the rest of the world loves soccer so much, it leaves the good ol' U.S. of A. to investigate the massive, systemic corruption that plagues the world's largest sports association.
In the midst of the recent corruption arrests and allegations, FIFA bankrolled United Passions, a historical film about the organization's long history, to the tune of $29 million. But after opening weekend, the film only grossed $607. To put that in perspective, schlockmaster Tommy Wiseau's abysmal The Room made three times more money in it's first (and only) two weeks of theatrical release.
The constant name-checking of FIFA in international news seems like a natural buzz-marketing campaign to get a few tickets sold. However, reviews for the film have deemed United Passions unwatchable. Here are some choice reviews:
"...[T]he bloated, talky epic starring Gerard Depardieu, Sam Neill and Tim Roth comes across as a squirm-inducing heap of propaganda at its most self-congratulatory."
— Los Angeles Times
"United Passions is one of the most unwatchable films in recent memory, a dishonest bit of corporate-suite sanitizing that's no good even for laughs."
—The New York Times
"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."
— The Guardian
The reviews go on to present the film as devoid of any honest drama, or even a 3-act story arc. It plods along like a book report. The section of the film dedicated to the scandal-mired Sepp Blatter seems hilariously tone deaf. Blatter, played by Tim Roth, is seen closing sponsorship deals and constantly facing unseen enemies that want to destroy him. Even more inexplicable is the introduction of Blatter as a character in the film, having Blatter's predecessor and mentor say of Blatter, "He is apparently good at finding money."
The movie's abyssmal failure is certainly not the most pressing issue the organization is facing. Instead, it seems a byproduct of unchecked ego and greed. The film's action centers on bureaucracy rather than what makes the beautiful game so beautiful. United Passions is basically a 2-hour-plus industrial film about the history of organizing international soccer.
But, on the bright side, if you've ever worked a full-time shift as a bartender or matched 4 numbers in the Powerball, you've made more money than a motion picture.