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Why Are Distributors Not Buying Trump’s Biopic Film Even After Receiving Great Reviews At Cannes?

A film based on Donald Trump received a lot of praise from film critics after it was screened at Cannes Film Festival. But the filmmakers are still struggling to find a distributor.

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The Apprentice Photo: X
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Former President Donald Trump has always been surrounded by controversies, and the biggest one recently was the Hush Money case verdict, in which he was found guilty of all 34 counts of felony charges. While all this was happening, a biopic about Donald Trump’s early years, "The Apprentice," was being presented at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite receiving glowing reviews, the controversial biopic is encountering significant challenges in securing a U.S. distribution or streaming deal.

Directed by Iranian filmmaker Ali Abbasi, "The Apprentice" premiered on May 20 and has since been praised by critics. The film was so good, it received 8 minutes standing ovation.

Deadline praised the film as a “smart, sharp, and surprising origin story,” while The Times described it as “the Donald Trump movie that you never knew you needed: full of compassionate feeling yet ruthless in analysis.”

The film also features a high-profile cast, including Sebastian Stan as the young Trump and Jeremy Strong from "Succession" as his mentor, lawyer, and political fixer, Roy Cohn. However, despite its critical success and star-studded cast, Variety reports that major studios and streaming platforms, such as Netflix, have yet to bid on the film. Even indie distributors known for taking risks, like Neon, which previously released Abbasi’s "Border," have not offered a deal.

Apparently, studios and distributors are concerned about the potential repercussions if Trump is re-elected as president this November and are therefore hesitant to buy the film. The biopic includes several not-so-good portrayals of Trump, such as drug use, cosmetic surgery, and a scene showing him raping his first wife, Ivana. In a 1989 divorce deposition, Ivana accused Trump of rape but later disavowed the allegation.

The involvement of billionaire Dan Snyder, former owner of the NFL's Washington Commanders, is also one of the reasons that is complicating the sale. Snyder, an investor in the film through his production company, Kinematics, reportedly expected a flattering portrayal of Trump’s rise in real estate. And so, he is “furious” about the final film.

Adding to the controversy, Trump’s campaign chief spokesperson, Steven Cheung, said that they are preparing legal action against the film. Cheung condemned the film, saying, “This garbage is pure fiction that sensationalizes lies that have been long debunked. As with the illegal Biden trials, this is election interference by Hollywood elites, who know that President Trump will retake the White House and beat their candidate of choice because nothing they have done has worked. This ‘film’ is pure malicious defamation, should not see the light of day, and doesn’t even deserve a place in the straight-to-DVD section of a bargain bin at a soon-to-be-closed discount movie store; it belongs in a dumpster fire.”

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