Movie stars: the political comments you make before your movie releases will affect who will see the film

Last November, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Republicans and Democrats like different primetime television shows. A new survey now shows that political affiliation of the viewer affects how much the political views of major movie actors influences movie-going behavior:

With Dolphin Tale opening with a strong $19.2 million that first weekend and finishing No. 1 with $13.9 million in its second, the financial impact of Freeman’s comments is hard to quantify. But they did have an effect. In a far-ranging poll Penn Schoen Berland conducted for The Hollywood Reporter of 1,000 registered voters to gauge moviegoing tendencies of Democrats vs. Republicans, it’s clear political allegiances have shifted entertainment viewing habits. Jon Penn, the firm’s president of media and entertainment research, says that before Freeman’s words, interest in Dolphin Tale was considerably higher among conservatives and religious moviegoers than among liberals. After the remarks, 34 percent of the conservatives who were aware of them, 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.)

In fact, overall, 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.

Many exhibitors say privately that they cringe when a star waxes politically just before one of their movies opens — like when, seven weeks before Contagion, Matt Damon attended a Save Our Schools march where some attendees compared Republicans to “terrorists.” Videos of Damon mocking conservatives for their fiscal policies spread like wildfire on the Internet.

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised at this information since we hear all the time about our overly partisan public sphere.

If this is true, should movie actors muzzle themselves and avoid sharing their political opinions? Why do movie actors often share this information while sports stars are more demure about this topic?

It would be interesting to know exactly why Republicans let these political actions and views affect them. Has this always been the case? Is this due to the commonly heard idea that Hollywood is a liberal place pushing liberal ideas? Do most Republicans think Hollywood puts out “enough” family-friendly or conservative-friendly films – do they really want to go to the movies more and the content is simply lacking? What are the movies most loved by Republicans and Democrats? (The article suggests people of both parties “say comedy is their favorite genre, popcorn is their favorite theater snack, Forrest Gump is their preferred blockbuster and Indiana Jones is their favorite action hero.” Now that’s bi-partisanship!)

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