School Choice

"Won't Back Down" Fails To Step Up at the Box Office

Teachers unions win this round


If ticket sales were standardized test scores, the movie "Won't Back Down" would qualify for a "parent trigger" takeover. Depending on which report you read, the film—about a fictitious takeover of a low-performing school under a school reform model that doesn't exist—either had the worst opening weekend in 30 years for a major release, or the second worst in history, or the worst ever. In any case, with about $2.6 million in sales, it flopped out of the gate.

Maybe this serves as evidence that movie audiences still heed professional film critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, fewer than 1 in 5 of the designated top critics praised the film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. It could be that as a movie topic, anti-union school reform measures lack sex appeal, even when dressed up in a wildly oversimplified plot and a romance that involves line dancing. Lack of marketing has been mentioned as an issue.