Liberals flock to 'divisive' Civil War movie in bumper opening weekend (2024)

Liberal anxiety about the schisms in US politics has turned the Alex Garland thriller movie Civil War intoone of the biggest Hollywood hits of the year.

The British-born director has explicitly steered clear of conventional fault lines, portraying California and Texas as allies against a dictatorial president of an unnamed party who has granted himself a third term.

But the vision of a US ravaged by armed militias and torn apart by war has attracted four times as many liberals into theaters as conservatives as it became the biggest R-rated opening of the year to date.

The movie, starring Kirsten Dunst, earned $25.7 million on its first weekend after it was released on Friday's anniversary of America's first civil war and has been slammed by some for coinciding with one of the most fraught election years in history.

'The title alone is enough to spark a conversation in a year where the political discourse is top of mind,' said Paul Dergarabedian, media analyst for Comscore. 'And they couldn´t have picked a better date.'

Kirsten Dunst , 41, stars as a journalist travelling through a divided nation, in which a three-term president battles secessionist forces from California and Texas

The movieearned $25.7 million on its first weekendas it became the biggest R-rated opening of the year to date

'I think civil war is just an extension of a situation,' director Alex Garland, 53, told The New York Times . 'That situation is polarization and the lack of limiting forces on polarization'

Dunst, Wagner Moura and Cailee Spaeny star as front-line journalists in the near future during the final days of a US civil war as the rival armies close in on Washington DC.

The plot sees more than a dozen states having seceded from the union but the reasons are not given and the doctrines of the rival factions are kept deliberately ambiguous.

'It was a delicate balance,' Garland said.

'The plan is to make a compelling and engaging film, and the product of the compelling and engaging film is a conversation.

'So the questions are: How do you make sure that you're not dismantling a conversation in the first part of that equation?'

Despite his efforts it looks like the conversation is being heard mainly on one side of the divide with 19 percent of viewers saying they were Democrats and six percent Republicans.

The Comscore survey also found that 22 percent described themselves as liberal and just five percent as conservative.

Garland has admitted he regarded the January 6 Capitol attack as a 'disgrace', and many viewers have claimed that his attempt to walk the line between America's polarized communities has not worked.

Nick Offerman stars as a 'fascist' president who has granted himself a third term in office

Kirsten Dunst stars as a veteran photojournalist trying to secure an interview with the president as rebel armies close in on the White House

The $50 million film shot in Georgia is the most expensive production yet from studio A24

Garland deliberately tried to create ambiguity for the audience over who was fighting who

Cailee Spaeny and Jesse Plemons in one of the movie's most heart-stopping scenes

'The plan is to make a compelling and engaging film,' Garland said 'And the product of the compelling and engaging film is a conversation

Civil War takes the shape of a road movie: a trunkful of journalists driving from New York City to their date with destiny in Washington, D.C.

'Genuinely baffled by all the talk Civil War — a movie where one side is clearly The Bad Guys and are led by clearly republican fascists and white nationalists — is in any way apolitical, because it plainly is not!' tweeted Brendan Hodges.

'The new movie Civil War is conditioning propaganda,' added Jonee Fry. 'The radical leftists paw prints are all over this.'

'If you want to see a Trump analogue tarred and feathered in a movie just say that,' added Vyce Victus.

Garland who is also the mind behind Ex Machina and Annihilation, has said the premise of the movie is that there is a 'fascist president who is killing his own citizens'.

'Then what's happened is two states who are in different political positions are saying we are more concerned about a fascist constitution-smashing violent president than we are about pour political differences.

'When things collapse, the speed at which they collapse tends to surprise people, including people like intelligence officers whose job is to watch and predict when these things will happen.

'Things are always in a slightly more dangerous state than they might appear.

'The consequences of it are so serious that to not take the threat seriously would, itself, be another kind of insanity. It would just be complacent.'

The film received its biggest audiences in LA, San Francisco, DC, Phoenix, Austin, and San Diego.

But it also proved a hot in smaller red state cities including El Paso and Waco, Texas, Oklahoma City and Charlottesville, Virginia.

The $50 million budget film is the most expensive made by studio A24 and opened on 3,838 screens across the US and Canada.

Dunst was at the Los Angeles Special Screening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The earnings are more than twice the average for a dystopian thriller on its opening weekend, according to industry analyst David A. Gross.

Such movies 'are generally set in futuristic worlds that look very different from contemporary life,' Gross said.

'Civil War is doing the opposite: It looks like right now. The film is bending the genre into something contemporary and relatable.'

But the director has certainly failed so far to transcend one of the most pronounced divisions among US movie-goers, with men making up more than 70 percent of its audiences.

Liberals flock to 'divisive' Civil War movie in bumper opening weekend (2024)


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