The Hollywood Reporter noted that “Southside with You,” the movie that depicted the first date of Barack and Michelle Obama in 1989 Chicago, opened to sparse box office, making just over $3 million and placing 14th overall in the weekend rankings. However, since the budget for the biop was just $1.5 million, the movie is going to make a profit.

“Southside with You” had two problems.

The first was timing. Had the movie come out during the Hope and Change era of 2008-9, it would have made huge box office.

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But it instead was released in the last year of the Obama era when most people, likely even his fan base, are anxious just to see the president and first lady shuffled off to the post-presidency. Eight years of economic malaise and racial tension at home and constant bloodbaths abroad have just proven too exhausting.

The second problem is that the story is just not very entertaining. A couple of people met and went on a date, with a little foreshadowing about what is to come.

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By all accounts, the movie lacked dramatic tension or any exciting moments to keep people from falling asleep. Change the names of the principles to Joe and Sally and no one would want to see the movie.

The sad truth is that a lot of presidents’ lives before their administrations don’t make great Movies. To be sure, some exceptions can be noted. Any founding father can and has made great cinema. Lincoln, of course, is in a class all of his own because he was a colorful character before he freed the slaves and saved the Union.

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Eisenhower won World War II. JFK fought in World War II. So did George H W Bush, though he hasn’t had his movie biography as of yet. Reagan, with a respectful movie in the works, will likely do well for the same reason that Lincoln does well.

In a twisted way, the back story of the Clintons would make great material for a movie or even an entire miniseries. But people will finish the flick wondering why they didn’t get to jail.

In short, a movie does not necessarily work just because the director admires the subjects.

The story has to be something that people will want to pay real money to see.  

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