Reintroducing herself to the American people as a viable political candidate via a documentary by a guy who executive-produced Julie Taymor’s Titus before going on to make conservative movies is a bold move for Sarah Palin. If it works, it’s a smart way to turn the Palin family’s reality show efforts, which at best are tacky and at worst are attack-ad ready fodder, from a major deficit to an asset, recasting Dancing with the Stars and Sarah Palin’s Alaska as media training rather than cash grabs. That said, I don’t really think it’s going to work. A movie isn’t the ritual act of deference that early primary voters are accustomed to.
But there’s a more interesting litmus test for the movie than whether it bolsters Palin’s political prospects. On the heels of Atlas Shrugged‘s inability to earn back its budget, Undefeated a test case for whether there’s a viable Tea Party market that Hollywood can target. Nikki Finke says the movie will end up in between 50 and 100 markets, so it’s not just going to be screened for carefully-selected audiences: they’re going to try to make some money on this thing. At one point, Palin was a reliable draw—her memoir, Going Rogue, sold at least 2.7 million copies. But Sarah Palin’s Alaska didn’t get renewed, and her ratings on Fox haven’t been particularly impressive, enough so that the network’s declined to pursue future editions of specials she was supposed to host.
In other words, the movie is a real gamble for Palin: it may not resurrect her political career, and if it fails, it could end up puncturing her entertainment brand too.