By Lynette Rice
March 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM EDT

The premiere of HBO’s controversial movie Game Change on Saturday ranked as the pay net’s most-watched original film in nearly eight years.

An average audience of 2.1 million viewers tuned into the Julianne Moore starrer. Across four weekend plays, the movie that also featured Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris lured 3.6 million. The political drama is based on John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s best-seller about Senator John McCain’s (Harris) ill-fated decision to choose Sarah Palin (Moore, pictured) as his vice presidential candidate in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Harrelson plays campaign strategist Steve Schmidt.

EW’s Ken Tucker said the biopic is “tougher on McCain than it is on Palin.”

The last time an original film did so well for HBO was in 2004, with the movie Something the Lord Made starring Alan Rickman and Mos Def. It averaged 2.6 million.

Read more:

‘Game Change’: Sarah Palin calls it ‘Hollywood lies,’ while her PAC describes it as ‘historical fiction’

Former Palin staffers rail against ‘Game Change’: HBO responds

‘Game Change’ reviews: The ballad of Sarah Palin, in prose and on video

‘Game Change’ trailer: Julianne Moore’s Sarah Palin does NOT want to go back to Alaska