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'The Fifth Estate' Director Blames Julian Assange For Flop

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BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH DANIEL BRUHL
Bill Condon blames Julian Assange for "Fifth Estate" flop. | AP

Bill Condon's "The Fifth Estate," the biggest wide-release flop of 2013, has earned just $3.1 million in North America as of Oct. 31. According to Box Office Mojo, the Julian Assange film failed to crack the top-20 at the box office over this past weekend, putting it behind a surfeit of recent releases ("Prisoners," "Enough Said") and some not-so-recent ones, like "Despicable Me 2." The animated hit, released all the way back in July, grossed a reported $425,000 from Friday to Sunday, about $150,000 less than "The Fifth Estate" earned in its second weekend.

Speaking to EW.com, Condon blamed the film's incredible failure on its subject: Wikileaks founder Julian 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," Condon said. "I do think there’s something about him that does not suggest an evening's entertainment."

The critical response to "The Fifth Estate" didn't exactly suggest a good time either. Condon's film received a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 37 percent, lower than the much-derided remake of "Carrie" and the Sylvester Stallone-Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Escape Plan."

One person, of course, who wasn't surprised by this outcome was Assange. In the week before its release, Assange told The Hollywood Foreign Press Association that "The Fifth Estate" was "destined to be a box-office failure," in part "[because audiences prefer] combative underdogs." Assange had previously told star Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the controversial figure in Condon's film, that he should walk away from the project.

"I believe that you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise," Assange wrote to Cumberbatch after the actor requested a meeting with him. "By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give."

"The Fifth Estate" was written by Josh Singer ("The West Wing"). It was based on two books: "Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website" by Daniel Domscheit-Berg (played by Daniel Bruhl in the film) and "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy" by David Leigh and Luke Harding.

For more from Condon, head to EW.com.

[via EW]

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