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Bjorn to Lose: First, Lomborg’s Movie Bombs, Then New Danish Government Says It Will Cut Off His Funding

By Joe Romm on October 3, 2011 at 8:15 am

"Bjorn to Lose: First, Lomborg’s Movie Bombs, Then New Danish Government Says It Will Cut Off His Funding"

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Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and bête noire of climate change activists around the world, has been told that the incoming Danish government will cut off his £1m a year funding.

It’s not been a good 12 months for the Danish delayer.

About a year ago he flip-flopped his core belief, asserting “Climate change is undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today.” Presumably  he did that to widen his appeal before  the launch of his big effort at mass miscommunication, Cool It.

But the documentary still went down as one of the great box office bombs.  According to Box Office Mojo, after grossing a whopping $58,179 in its debut month of December, it grossed $4, 534 from 12/1 to 12/24 before it was pulled from theaters.  That would be $189 per day, or roughly $24 per theater.

Ouch!  You don’t have to be a statistician like Lomborg to figure out that nobody watched and somebody has lost a bundle of money.  Still, it managed to be the 435th highest grossing documentary of all time, edging out such classics as “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (444) and “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” (439).  Hmm.  If a documentary film is made and nobody watches it, does it make a sound?

The movie, of course, was just a clever loss leader for Lomborg’s bad ideas, as I noted.  A film is a ticket to widespread media attention, far more than even a new book provides.  For instance, the movie means that credulous reviewers who don’t follow the energy and climate debate closely will write columns that millions will read (see “Cool It and plausible deniability“), compared to the, uhh, hundreds that flocked to the film.

Lomborg then basically flip-flopped back (see “Now that his movie has bombed, Lomborg is back to telling folks “Go Ahead and Guzzle”).

But after  selling out what few principles he had, Lomborg is getting cut off by the new Danish is government.  As DeSmogBlog reports:

“Our starting point is that money which is given to people who do not agree that there are climate change problems should be chucked out,” stated Social Democrat environmental spokesperson Mette Gjerskov.

In response to the news, our friends at the Carbon Brief noted about Lomborg’s funding loss, “that’s a lot of tight t-shirts.”

Snap.

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21 Responses to Bjorn to Lose: First, Lomborg’s Movie Bombs, Then New Danish Government Says It Will Cut Off His Funding

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    I like that blunt language from Gjerskov. Our own Democrats appear to be afraid of the deniers, unless they’re out of office (such as Bill Clinton).

  2. Tim says:

    Libertarian Bjorn Lomborg gets Danish government funding? Why am I not surprised?

  3. Sounds like delayism was a good gig. Hope he invested the £1M/year in Exxon.

  4. John McCormick says:

    Goodbye to the muse that roared.

    And, when will his ‘movie’ be available on DVD?
    Might make an interesting tea cup saucer.

  5. A Siegel says:

    In addition to the benefit for propaganda that having a (lousy truthiness-laden) film provided Lomborg, I found Randy Olson’s take on it rather interesting (http://thebenshi.com/2010/11/24/87-bjorn-lomborgs-climate-movie-to-err-is-human-to-bore-is-a-disaster-for-both-sides/). The post’s title: “Lomborg’s Climate Movie: To err is human, to bore is a disaster for both sides.” Lomborg’s film was very well financed and, for “documentary”, extremely well publicized. According to a contact, who was interviewed for (and views misrepresented in) the film, he and his wife were two of the four people in a theater the day it opened … and the other two walked out before it was over. The challenge this createrd, which Randy highlights, is that it makes it that much harder to get any financial support for and theater willings to show climate-related films/documentaries. A question, of course, is whether this was a purporseful part of the strategy or an unexpected bonus package for the global warming denier backers of the film ….

  6. Leif says:

    This morning I saw a report of an Onion article about the GOP taking school children in DC hostage to secure their demands. This roomer started to get “tweeted” and obviously hit too close to home, (having already worked on lower funding for the school system,) and want an investigation into spreading false information on Twitter. (perhaps even preventing a future plan implementation.)

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the fossil industry tactics, being that false info spreading is bread and butter to them.

    “Things are going to slide, slide in all directions. There will be nothing you can measure, measure any more.” “Repent”, Lenard Cohan. (Worth a listen.)

  7. Russell says:

    The vast majority of ‘An inconvenient truth ‘ viewers saw it for free.

    What opinion shift results when random audiences are shown both ‘Climate Reality ‘ and ‘Cool It’ ?

    Does the order of viewing impact the outcome?

    • Joe Romm says:

      On what basis do you make this claim: The vast majority of ‘An inconvenient truth ‘ viewers saw it for free.

      I don’t believe it is true.

  8. Hot Rod says:

    “Our starting point is that money which is given to people who do not agree that there are climate change problems should be chucked out,” stated Social Democrat environmental spokesperson Mette Gjerskov.

    That’s not my understanding of Lomborg’s position.

    • Carl says:

      What the article doesn’t address is the rationale for giving Lonborg the funding in the first place (I didn’t research the links and whether it was in there). That seems like a key piece in all of this. If you’re going to cut off funding it seems likely it’s because the original rationale no longer seems justified, and there is likely more to the story than the short quote from Gjerskov would indicate.

      • A conservative Danish government was funding Lomborg climate-denial for political, not scientific, reasons. New government came in and axed the Lomborg pet-project funding.

  9. Jay Alt says:

    I am surprised the funding was thru the Danish government, always assumed it was private. The academic side of the university that houses his centre has no control over it. And Lomborg is famous in Danish natural science circles for earlier controversies, a book on the environment packed with the same types of fraudulent claims.

    Bjorn need not worry. A quick trip to the U.S. and his buddies in the deniosphere will match him to fat-cat donors and industries with deep pockets.

  10. Russell says:

    Joe:
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but while AIT’s box office take of 49 mil suggests some 6 million paid viewers, Al is already claiming 8.6 million people saw his latest web production for free.

    The Inconvenient Truth DVD was famously offered free of change to upwards of 50,000 schools in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ, and elsewhere, with upwards of ten language choices.

    With 3,500 Climate Project presenters too many Google pages of free distribution and download sites to readily count , and copies in practically every public library in the world for over a thousand days, it shouldn’t tae the captive airline audience to get into the tens of millions

    • Joe Romm says:

      1) Nice goal-post moving. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do online where everyone can read your original dubious claim “The vast majority of ‘An inconvenient truth ‘ viewers saw it for free.”

      2) Of course, you’d want to include those who paid for a DVD or on Demand.

      3) See someone who isn’t Al Gore deliver a PPT does not count as viewing AIT. Nice try.

      4) As I thought, you had no basis for your assertion. I don’t think there is any evidence for your claim and it might be prudent to simply with draw it.

  11. MikeB says:

    Its nice to see that someone in authority has finally seen through Lomborg’s schick – although how he will pay for his highlights is anyones guess. I’m sure he will justify it to himself, one way or another.

    As far as comparing the turkey that was ‘Cool It’ and ‘An Inconvienent Truth’, a very quick look at the IMDB shows the reality. Its true that 50,000 copies were given away to schools, but not until 2007 – the film was released in 2006. The opening weekend in the US for AICT? $367,000. on 4 screens. Cool It? less than $27,000 on 41 screens. Final total? About $24 million gross theatrically in 2006 for Gore (over 6 months). Cool It got just $62,000, and was pulled in less than 2 months.

    If Lomborg really believes in the power of the market (and this is a man who has been getting cash from government, so their might be a difference between theory and reality), then these numbers make it clear what we all know already – he’s full of it.

  12. Russell says:

    Joe:

    The audience demography speaks for itself, but as ‘vast’ is a rather vague word, perhaps you should ask Al to quantify the answer.

    If he believes < 12 million people have seen his film, you win.

    If he reckons tens of million have seen it, you lose.

    From 13 to 19 million I'm ahead on points.

    Meanwhile , back on the 50 yard line, the question remains : Has anyone compared audience response to the two films, or studied order-of-viewing differentials?

    • Joe Romm says:

      1) Getting tiresome. Why would I ask Al to quantify your BS. Just admit you pulled the statement out of your ass and move on.

      2) Why compare audience response of one of the most successful documentaries of all time with a mega-flop? Seriously.

      You ain’t on the 50-yard line. I just got a safety and you need to kick the ball away.

  13. Zach says:

    Glad to know Denmark is ending subsidies for bad ideas.

  14. David B. Benson says:

    Goody goody gumdrops.

  15. Russell says:

    Joe:

    It was naïve to equate An Inconvenient Truth’s claim of a $49 million gross with six million movie tickets.

    Entertainment Weekly informs us ( http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1213709,00.html) that about two, not six , million American’s paid to see it in theaters.

    Nielsen on the other hand reports that upwards of 7 million people watched it on Oprah alone, for an unpaid-to- paid viewer ratio of greater than 3 to 1 even without all the other TV venues.

    It is generally advisable to do a little dimensional analysis of ones own before reflexively questioning that of others: “the vast majority” of viewers did see it for free.