Like many of President Trump’s tweets, the one lashing out at filmmaker Michael Moore seemed to come out of nowhere.
“While not at all presidential . . . ” it began, before taking aim at Moore’s Broadway play, “The Terms of My Surrender,” which had ended its run the weekend before.
“I must point out that the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB and was forced to close. Sad!” Trump tweeted.
It’s unclear what prompted Trump to send such a tweet on the cusp of a Saturday evening — though, like Moore himself, “The Terms of My Surrender” did not hold back on its criticisms of Trump and his presidency. Officially, the play was billed as “a hilarious satirical tour through the depraved new world we find ourselves in since appointing a madman as the leader of the free world.”
Promotional posters for the one-man show, which featured a rotating band of guests, trumpeted: “Can a Broadway show bring down a sitting president?” The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman described the play as “a cheeky rebuke to the Trump Administration that plays mostly as a liberal pep rally.”
A few hours after Trump’s tweet posted, Moore responded on Twitter to dispute claims that the show had bombed or closed early. “The Terms of My Surrender” began previews Belasco Theatre in New York on July 28 and officially opened Aug. 10. It was always scheduled for a 12-week engagement; its final performance was Oct. 22.
Moore said as much Saturday, reiterating that the limited run was because of his commitments to other TV and movie projects.
“On Broadway, Donald, they call it a ‘LIMITED ENGAGEMENT’ — just like we’re planning on making your presidency,” Moore fired back at Trump in one of a dozen threaded tweets. He also posted an undated photo of himself with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, claiming he still had “one fan in the White House.”
In addition, Moore claimed “The Terms of My Surrender” was the highest-grossing nonmusical play of the summer, “despite my offering $29 cheap seats + free student tix so ALL could afford.” According to the Broadway League statistics, the show grossed $4.2 million, just under half of its potential gross, with an average capacity of 78 percent. Playbill confirmed that it was the highest-grossing nonmusical plays among those that had opened this summer, though another one that had opened earlier (“The Play That Goes Wrong”) grossed more in the 12-week period in which Moore’s play ran.
The Washington Post’s theater critic, Peter Marks, gave “The Terms of My Surrender” a lackluster review, calling it “less a jaunty excursion than an unvarnished ego trip” and “a slog through cringe-inducing skits and only occasionally engaging anecdotes about Moore’s stumble into the life of a political gadfly.” Earlier last week, Moore had announced that he planned to take “The Terms of My Surrender” on a national tour in 2018.
Moore also accused Trump of trying to distract from more-pressing issues, such as the situation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing investigation into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russians seeking to meddle in the 2016 election.