We were out on the road last week at film festivals in Maine and New York (more on that in a later post) during what seemed like a pretty momentous week on the indie film landscape. And on Sunday night we were without wireless in the New York countryside, so apologies for delivering The Monday Brief a day late.
We start, naturally, with Michael Moore and his latest, CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, which expanded from its successful limited engagement in New York and Los Angeles to nearly 1000 theaters, and true to his reputation as the world’s foremost documentarian, Moore scored pretty big in wide release, taking in over $4.4 million for the weekend. In doing so, CAPITALISM becomes the third biggest nonfiction of the year (surpassing FOOD, INC. and SEPTEMBER ISSUE and lagging only Disney’s EARTH and JONAS BROTHERS 3D).
But with a per screen average of just under $5K (compared to SICKO's opening weekend average of $10K+, on half the screens), CAPITALISM will need strong word-of-mouth and a solid second weekend hold to match the $20M+ total box office take of his three most successful docs.
Still, while CAPITALISM's numbers may be modest for Moore, they still rank as highly successful for your average nonfiction film.
CAPITALISM was not the weekend’s only success story. Kristopher Belman’s MORE THAN A GAME, retelling the historic high school basketball season of a team that would include future NBA all-star LeBron James, had one of the top doc debuts of the year. It took in an average of $13K on 14 screens for an opening weekend cume of $182K, putting it just shy of the top 20 docs of the year.
And RJ Cutler’s THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE had another fine weekend in wide release, grossing $220K on 104 screens to bring its total to just shy of $3M.
But while those three films were drawing folks to theaters this weekend, another film – just as was the case last week – was perhaps the week’s most talked about documentary: Marina Zenovich’s ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED continued to be in the news in the wake of Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland on 30-year old rape charges in the U.S.