New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s new climate change documentary debuted in movie theaters over the weekend, generating an abysmal $80 per theater.
The new film, “To the End,” was filmed over four years and follows four young women, Cortez, activist Varshini Prakash, climate policy writer Rhiana Gunn-Wright and political strategist Alexandra Rojas, as they attempt to pass sweeping climate change legislation in Congress.
The film currently boasts an 88% “fresh” critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and does not yet have an audience score.
“Representative Ocasio-Cortez offers the best onscreen antidote to despair — she’s funny, a canny political strategy,” Teo Bugbee of the New York Times wrote.
“To the End is set to ignite more Americans to take action,” RogertEbert.com’s Nick Allen wrote in his review.
The documentary debuted on more than 120 screens over the weekend but garnered less than $10,000 dollars across all theaters, coming in 33rd place overall at the box office.
Several Oscar-bait films lauded during film festivals have struggled to excel in theaters this year, with critics attributing the audience drop-off to the rise in streaming platforms, audiences’ increasing distrust in critic scores, and topics that do not interest a large swathe of the public.
The latter factor may have been the largest contributor to the film’s meager earnings, with climate change documentaries in the last several years failing to draw in a substantial audience.
Earlier this year, “The Territory,” a National Geographic film about indigenous people fighting effects of climate change, earned less than $70,000 throughout its entire run in theaters.
Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick, the creators of “To the End,” previously made “Knock Down the House,” which revolved around the 2018 congressional primary campaigns of Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin and four other progressive Democrats.
While the “Knock Down the House” documentary garnered praise from movie critics, certified with a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, the public had a very different opinion on the project, with a score sitting at 11%.
One audience member called the film a “knocked down drag out snooze fest,” while others knocked the film for its “extremely polarizing message.”
“I feel like I must have watched a completely different movie than the ones [the critics] watched,” one viewer said. “It was absolutely terrible, and it actually made me dislike Alexandria Cortez after it was all over. I now see the audience score and I would say it is much more accurate compared to the critics.”
In 2020, a seven-minute film on The Green New Deal, narrated by Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, was nominated for an Emmy.