Michael Peña como César Chávez en una escena de "César Chávez" en una fotografía proporcionada por Pantelion Films. (Foto AP/Pantelion Films
This photo released by Pantelion Films shows Rosario Dawson, right, as Dolores Huerta, and Michael Pena, left, as Cesar Chavez, in a scene from the film "Cesar Chavez." The movie opens Friday, March 28, 2014, after its premieres at the Berlin Film Festival and South by Southwest, and after a special screening with Barack Obama at The White House. (AP Photo/Pantelion Films)
Despite a huge final push by a big-name cast and an Audience Award win at the South By Southwest Festival in Texas – and even a plug by President Obama – the epic film “Cesar Chavez” had a weak start at the box office.
The highly anticipated film, about the life of the late labor leader, gained some buzz in the final week before its release, especially since it premiered days before what would have been Chavez’s 87th birthday. President Obama even held a private screening in the White House.
But the movie sputtered in its opening weekend, raking in only $3 million, according to Deadline. This was nowhere near the weekend’s top film, “Noah,” which pulled in nearly $44 million.
It was not completely surprising, since the movie received lukewarm reviews.
Scott Mendelson of Forbes wrote the film felt more like “homework than entertainment.”
“It’s a little ironic/sad that longtime supporting player Michael Peña finally gets an out-and-out lead role only through a project that couldn’t possibly be fronted by a white guy,” he wrote. “Still, the biopic of a famous union rights/civil rights activist is the kind of film we should all want more of, so I hope it finds something approaching legs in the next month.”
The film, directed by Mexican actor Diego Luna, opened in a fair number of theaters nationwide (664), averaging $4,500 per screen. But it was not enough – at least not yet – to cover its $10 million budget.
“Cesar Chavez” stars Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich. It tells the story of the co-founder of the United Farm Workers that led a grape boycott and organized a 300-mile march from Delano to Sacramento.
"This is a story of a Mexican-American, a guy who was born here, a hero of this country, a man who brought change to America, a beautiful story that everyone should hear," Luna told Fox News Latino. "It's a story that belongs to this country and it was important to get it right."