Bill Condon on 'Fifth Estate' disaster: Assange just 'wore out his welcome'

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Image Credit: Frank Connor

Not even the Cumberbitches could save it. By all accounts, The Fifth Estate — Bill Condon’s movie about WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch — was a box office disaster. After a lukewarm reception at Toronto and opening to mixed reviews last month, the film has only made a little over $3 million since its Oct. 18 release. Director Condon told EW he blames the lackluster response on Assange.

“We were all so excited [around the release date] because it was just in the news recently, but the opposite might be true, that it simply wore out its welcome and that there is something about Assange. I do think there’s something about him that does not suggest an evening’s entertainment,” Condon said.

Assange has reportedly called the unauthorized biopic “a massive propaganda attack,” and even urged Cumberbatch to quit the film.

The director, who is currently staging a reboot of the 1997 musical Sideshow at the La Jolla Playhouse near San Diego, Calif., admitted that he was shocked by the sheer lack of audience.

“It’s so interesting because when something doesn’t live up to expectations then, God, you really start second guessing if it was this little thing [you missed], but when something is as big a rout as this is — I mean truly there turned out to be no audience for it in a major way — it’s kind of extreme, you know? It really does make you look at the bigger picture.”

Prior to directing The Fifth Estate, Condon helmed the last two Twilight films — to a very different tune as far as audience is concerned.  “It’s great, especially in light of this last movie, to have a movie that people were waiting for as opposed to running away from,” he quipped.

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