A week after speculation that Morgan Freeman’s comments about the Tea Party would hurt box office sales for Dolphin among conservative moviegoers, the prediction has come to pass, sort of…at least according to one survey.
In case you forgot, last week the veteran actor appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight and denied he’d provided narration for a Tea Party-supported Republican candidate’s attack ad last November. Afterwards, he called the Tea Party “racist,” causing some to predict his statements would hurt ticket sales for Dolphin, which prominently features him.
A poll conducted by The Hollywood Reporter of 1,000 registered voters gauged moviegoing tendencies of Democrats and Republicans. Jon Penn, president of Penn Schoen Berlandthe — the firm which produced the survey for THR — said that before Freeman's words, interest in Dolphin Tale was considerably higher among conservatives and religious moviegoers than among liberals. After Freeman’s remarks, 34 percent of the conservatives who were aware of his statement, and 37 percent of Tea Partiers, said they were less likely to see the film. But 42 percent of liberals said they were more likely. (Five days after Freeman's remarks, 24 percent of all moviegoers were aware of them.)
More important, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Tea Partiers consider a celebrity's political position before paying to see their films, compared with 20 percent of Democrats.
"Of course it impacts box office," exclaimed Mark Cuban, owner of Landmark Theatres. "You just hope that for every member of one party that no-shows because of comments, another buys a ticket for the same reason."
But whether Freeman’s words damaged the film’s appeal is a moot point because the movie dethroned The Lion King as number one at the box office during its second week.
(Photo: Chris Weeks/GettyImages)