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No passionate welcome for FIFA's "United Passions"

Writer: Florey DM


"United Passions" debuted at a bad timing.

19 June – Football (or soccer, depending on your current geographical location) is a globally-loved phenomenon. Still, there is no guarantee that any movie made about it will automatically be welcomed onto the field, especially if it concerns FIFA – the association recently learned the hard way.

"United Passions", a movie financed by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is creating a buzz but for all the wrong reasons.

It has gone down in history as the lowest-grossing movie in U.S. ever.

According to The Guardian, the movie recorded an all-time low with a final weekend return of USD918 from 10 cinemas against its USD30 million production budget.

Even Chris Nolan's (no, not the "Interstellar" Nolan) 2012 vampire rock musical "I Kissed A Vampire" managed to earn at least USD1,380, while 2013 animated movie "Last Flight of the Champion" raked in USD1,493.

Losing to a vampire rock musical (we can't stress that enough) and a badly animated cartoon must be a huge blow to French director Frederic Auburtin's self-esteem, not to mention reputation, as the FIFA movie has earned him the worst reviews of his life.


A still from "United Passions".

"The reception of the film is that it's just propaganda. But it's just a film, you don't have to watch it. And this wasn't public money, not tax money. It's FIFA's money, they can do whatever they want with it," said Auburtin in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, when asked if the movie reception had been unfair.

"What's very hard for me is that I'm not a stupid director that took the job for a big check, I tried to do my best and little by little because of the way the production went and because of FIFA's involvement and because there was no marketing. Now when you Google it, the film is the worst ever and biggest box office disaster."

Released on 5 June in the U.S., the movie debuted just days after the FIFA scandal, where FIFA president Sepp Blatter was forced to resign after fourteen of the soccer officials were arrested on corruption charges. Blatter was just elected to a fifth term in his position before the scandal broke.

The English language French drama about the origins of FIFA made its world premiere at 2014's Cannes Film Fest. Only Gerard Depardieu, who starred as FIFA founder Jules Rimet and helped put the movie together, was in attendance at the premiere, minus co-stars Tim Roth, who played the central character Blatter, and Sam Neill, who played Blatter's predecessor, Joaoa Havelange.

"United Passions" was not released in other football-crazed countries such as the UK, Germany and Brazil, and was only available straight to DVD in France.

Cinema Online, 19 June 2015

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