Greetings from London...where we await tomorrow night's Grierson Awards, Wednesday's kickoff of Sheffield Doc/Fest 2009 and Thursday's announcement of this year's Cinema Eye Honors Nominations...
The big doc news worldwide this weekend has been the massive success of MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT. The behind the scenes look at what was to be Jackson's big comeback tour launched last Wednesday with nearly $7.5M in ticket sales - the seventh best one day take for a nonfiction feature all time (only FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and both JACKASS films had higher grosses). Friday, the studio estimates that the film made $7.85M, which would be the sixth best day ever.
Further, THIS IS IT became the fourth nonfiction to lead the theatrical box office for the weekend. Estimates say the film took in more than $21M this weekend (which brings its total cume to $32.5M. International figures already put the film over $100M in its initial bow.
Strangely, bizarrely, breathtakingly, there has been a campaign by some to declare the film's box office take a huge disappointment. Nikke Finke seemed to get there first, quoting unnamed studio rivals declaring that Sony had overestimated the film's potential. (Sony had reportedly paid $50M for the rights.)
David Poland knocks down that nonsense - and hard:
"Anyone still pushing the idea of THIS IS IT as a disappointment should be publicly ridiculed. Aggressively...
And let's not pretend it's innocent. "Projections by the studio were not met" is reporting a fact. "Disappointment" is claiming an emotion that reflects the intent to slap back at the feeling of having been set up for more. Plus, reporting what other studios are saying as though they are impartial observers is another remarkable break in trust with readers."
Look for THIS IS IT to become the highest grossing nonfiction title of the year sometime Tuesday.
Elsewhere in the theatrical box office (and decidedly a more quiet success), Aviva Kempner's YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG passed the $1M theatrical box office mark. She previously scored at the box office with her 1999 documentary THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG.
With that, GOLDBERG becomes the 12th nonfiction feature in 2009 to make more than $1M - and that sets a new record for nonfiction features. Previously, the breakthrough year of 2004 led with 11 films passing the $1M threshold.
(The others, in case you're keeping score at home, are EARTH, THIS IS IT, JONAS BROTHERS, CAPITALISM, FOOD, INC., SEPTEMBER ISSUE, GOOD HAIR, WALTZ WITH BASHIR, VALENTINO, EVERY LITTLE STEP and IT MIGHT GET LOUD.)
Remember all that talk of the doc doldrums just - wow, was that all of a year and a half ago?