After years of relative obscurity, soccer is finally big in the United States, with the Women’s World Cup drawing huge ratings and many more paying attention to FIFA because of a corruption scandal. Here’s a look at one part of the soccer phenomenon that didn’t score a goal.
In 2013, FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, announced that it was making a big-budget film to celebrate and further popularize the sport. The plan was to have the movie ready for theaters in spring 2014, just before the start of the men’s World Cup tournament. But the movie that was made wasn’t really about “the beautiful game”—it was a puff piece about the founding and development of FIFA itself.
United Passions debuted to poor reviews and audience disinterest at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was released to a handful of theaters around Europe. It starred Academy Award nominees Tim Roth as FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Gerard Depardieu as FIFA co-founder Jules Rimet. The film, which FIFA wanted to title Men of Legend or The Dreammakers, had a budget of about $30 million, of which 90 percent came directly from FIFA, a non-profit organization that has since become the subject of an international probe and subsequent corruption scandal.
The movie was finally released in the U.S. in early June 2015 into just ten movie theaters around the country. It’s take on opening weekend: $918. The makes it the worst opening in box office history. (One theater that showed it, the FilmBar in Phoenix, tallied a gross of $9—a single ticket all weekend.)
Ironically, another FIFA movie is in production, but it’s probably not one FIFA is interested in. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are making a movie about the corruption scandal that led to the resignation of multiple FIFA executives, including president Sepp Blatter.