BEATS, RHYMES & LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, the debut feature by actor Michael Rapaport, finally landed in theaters last weekend after months of behind-the-scenes and in-the-press strife between the director and several of his subjects. But in the end, the formerly, vocally-opposed Q-Tip and his fellow members of A Tribe Called Quest encouraged fans to see the film - and indeed they did, giving the BEATS the biggest documentary opening of 2011: the film took in a stellar average of nearly $28,000 in 4 theaters.
That tally just edged the opening weekend for one of the biggest docs of the year, Werner Herzog's CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, which averaged $27,820 on five screens back in late April. After 11 weeks, CAVE is now zeroing in on $5M, a box office record for Herzog and a signal that he is one of the few directors working in nonfiction who have the strength to pull in an audience based on their name.
BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK, which is nearing the end of its run (with a cume of nearly $1.4M), still holds the per screen record for docs this year. It opened at the Film Forum in March and took in $33K during its first weekend.