Why do people crucify artists for simply voicing their opinion on politics? Who decided that, once a certain level of fame and prominence is achieved, artists must protect the bottom line at all costs by remaining apolitical (re: boring) on social media and in the press? No clue, but the Hollywood Reporter is now out here asking analysts if the recent protests against the President-elect by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story writers Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta will have significant impact on Disney's diet of millions of dollars.
"When you're trying to get a big movie out, you want to be as agnostic as possible," comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told THR Monday. "You want to be able to appeal to everyone irrespective of their political beliefs. If it's a Michael Moore movie, go for it. Or Dinesh D'Souza. Then your currency is controversy. But if you're producing something for the masses, your currency is not controversy. It's get the movie out to the broadest possible audience."
Weitz and Whitta made headlines just days after the presidential election, sharing an updated version of the iconic Rebel Alliance symbol with a safety pin added in solidarity with those most impacted by the central message behind the President-elect's campaign. "Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization," Weitz said before eventually deleting the tweet.
According to analysts like Dergarabedian and Pivotal Research Group's Brian Wieser, bold political statements of this nature can sometimes result in a box office dent. "If Bill O'Reilly, Drudge and Breitbart collectively decide to take this on as this year's version of the war on Christmas, it can have an impact," Wieser told THR. "Any time someone treads down a political path, there is commercial risk." Breitbart, it's worth noting, counts the President-elect's David Duke-approved chief strategist among its former executives.
So, can outright political statements potentially impact Rogue One box office dollars? Mayyyybe. But should Disney and company really care?