[R-G] Fahrenheit 9/11, set box-office records in its first few days
aaron at istop.com
aaron at istop.com
Tue Jun 29 22:00:45 MDT 2004
The WSWS will post a review of Fahrenheit 9/11 by David Walsh tomorrow.
American director Michael Moores documentary indictment of the Bush
administration, Fahrenheit 9/11, set box-office records in its first few days
in North American cinemas.
The subject of unprecedented anticipation and concerted right-wing attacks,
Fahrenheit 9/11 set single-day records at its two New York City venues on its
opening day June 23. The film sold $49,000 worth of tickets at the Loews
Village 7 in Manhattan, beating the theaters single-day previous record set
by Hollywood blockbuster Men in Black, and more than $30,000 at the Lincoln
Plaza theater, topping the total established at that cinema by Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The success in New York was followed up nationwide over the weekend when
Moores film opened in 868 theaters in the US and Canada. Despite playing in
a relatively small number of theaters (and many of them smaller, art-house
venues), Fahrenheit 9/11 outperformed all other films and was number one at
the box office, grossing an estimated $21.8 million in three days. The number-
two film, White Chicks, opened in 2,726 theaters.
Fahrenheit 9/11 surpassed the domestic box-office record for a documentary
set by Moores own Bowling for Columbine over the course of 10 monthsin its
first three days. Analysts are predicting a possible $100 million domestic
box office, an unheard-of figure for a non-fiction film.
Paul Dergarabedian, president of a company that tracks box office returns,
told the Washington Post that he was particularly impressed by the per-
theater average of $25,115: Im amazed at those numbers. That type of per-
theater average is usually reserved for a blockbuster. Fahrenheit 9/11s
opening was the highest ever for a film opening in fewer than 1,000 screens.
Film industry experts had predicted much lower numbers for Moores
documentary. Variety had forecast a $10 million opening weekend. Market
research had indicated that the film would rank second or third, behind two
commercial comedies, White Chicks and Dodgeball (which was playing in 3,020
theaters). An executive with the studio that produced White Chicks told the
New York Times, This picture [Moores] came from nowhere. Its what movie
viewing has become. If you make it feel like it has urgency, people will have
Tom Ortenberg of Lions Gate, one of the distributors that picked up
Fahrenheit 9/11 after Disney refused to allow its own division, Miramax, to
release it, told the press during a conference call Sunday, [We had the]
number one gross in virtually every, and possibly every, theater we were
in.... [We did] extremely well in every single theater we are in.
Ortenberg commented, The film played brilliantly in the red states and in
the blue states [referring to states dominated by the Republicans and
Democrats, respectively), in the big towns and the small towns. We literally
sold out Peoria, Illinois, and Fayetteville, North Carolina. I take my hat
off to Michael Moore.
Moore noted that Fayetteville was the home of Fort Bragg, adding, We sold
out in Army-base towns. We set house records in some of these places. We set
single-day records in a number of theaters. We got standing ovations in
Greensboro, North Carolina.
The director said, Republican states are embracing the movie, and its sold
out in Republican strongholds all over the country.
Speaking of the overall figures, Moore told the media, These are mind-
blowing numbers. All the predictions that the movie would only speak to the
choir, would only be for those who dont like Bush, I dont think they have
turned out to be true. He observed with some legitimacy that Fahrenheit
9/11 became part of the national conversation this weekend.
Exit surveys in 15 cities indicated that 91 percent of respondents gave the
film an excellent rating, while 93 percent said they would definitely
recommend the film, numbers that were the best Ortenberg said he had ever
seen. The core audience was split between male and female and its largest
component was 25 to 34 years old.
The distributors plan to add a few hundred theaters this weekend, when it
will compete with one of the summer blockbusters, Spiderman 2. Moore
joked, We look forward to joining with Spiderman to bringing truth and
justice all across America.
The reception to Fahrenheit 9/11 is a genuine political phenomenon and
shatters a series of myths propagated by the US media and the political
establishment, including the Democratic Party leadership. It demolishes once
and for all the notion that George W. Bush is an immensely popular figure,
that the war in Iraq is backed by the American people and that some right-
wing consensus dominates the US.
These myths have been used to intimidate and silence opposition. With their
voices entirely excluded from the media and the official political arena,
opponents of the war and the Bush administration were intended to feel like a
small and isolated group, wandering in the wilderness. Audience members
turning up for Moores film have had the experience of discovering that
masses of other people share the same hostility for the war and for US
Press reports from around the US give some indication of the response to the
film, and to its denunciations of the Bush administrations foreign policy.
One moviegoer in Alabama said his local cinema in Mobile was filled to
capacity, despite living in an area where, he said, even the liberals are
conservative. The viewer added: I heard something I have never heard at a
movie in Mobile beforeapplause. Giant, cheerful applause as the credits
began to roll for a film that I was just sure Id have the theatre to myself
In Texas, audiences were large and enthusiastic. One Texan filmgoer told the
press: Living in Houston, heart of Bush country, my whole family including
in-laws piled into three cars and went to the opening.... [W]e were surprised
to find the showing sold out at the first theatre, but managed to find seats
at the second we tried.
We loved the movie, which gave us real hope that freedom and democracy will
return to this great country in November [at the presidential election]. The
audience gave a long ovation at the end.
Viewers in Washington, D.C., apparently invaded cinemas as the movie opened.
At a 14-screen multiplex theatre in Georgetown, in the heart of the capital,
the movie was being shown on three screens. Tickets had been sold out for
days, and some people were forced to sit on the floor.
A 29-year-old bartender, Anthony Branch, told the Washington Post that the
film had helped him better understand whats really going on.... I feel he
[Bush] just lied about everything.
Alan Wilenski, 50, an ardent Bush-Cheney supporter, told New York Newsday
at a screening in Farmingdale, New York, that the film had really given me
pause to think about whats really going on. There was just too muchtoo much
Hes not making fun of the administration. Hes speaking the truth, Richard
Arrucci, 68, of Dix Hills told Newsday. Im hoping a lot of people will see
it and it will affect the outcome of the election. Speaking of Moore,
Suzanne Defree, 26, of East Northport commented, Hes never really been pro-
Republican, but I certainly trust Michael Moore more than I trust the
Eugene Hernandez of indieWIRE wrote: Just as in many theaters across the
country, large crowds gathered to see the movie in Times Square [in New York
City] on Friday night. Venue staff at the AMC Empire 25 theaters on 42nd St.
seemed overwhelmed by the crowds that arrived early and gathered in the
walkways outside theaters. A projectionist at the venue told indieWIRE Friday
night that the theater was adding additional screenings after midnight to
accommodate the demand for the film.
The local newspaper in Wise County, Virginia, in the southwestern part of the
state, reported, Fahrenheit 9/11, the controversial movie/documentary by
Michael Moore, is packing the Cinemall Theater in rural southwestern
Virginia.... Abingdon Cinemall Theater audiences have ended every showing
with a large applause at its conclusion, according to reports.... Most of the
Cinemall audiences in Abingdon appear to be averaging 40-to-50-ish in age
grouping with one exiting viewer saying the film should be seen by any free-
thinking American prior to entering the presidential polling booth.
Fahrenheit 9/11 puts events of the past four years in context that many
Americans have refused or feared to realize.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported: Though specific takes at local theaters
were not available, managers at the Showcase Cinemas in Western Hills,
Kenwood Towne Centre and AMC Theatres Newport on the Levee all reported brisk
It was definitely our No. 1 film, said AMC manager Brandon Ferguson.
Audiences spanned many demographics, though the Friday and Saturday night
crowds were largely youthful. The crowds laughed, sighed, and scoffed
throughout the movie, bursting into applause at the end.
Rob Borsellino of the Des Moines [Iowa] Register described a screening of the
film in his city: The 500-seat theater was sold out, and at the end of the
movie the crowd was applauding, cheering. Theyd just sat through Michael
Moores Fahrenheit 9/11, and there was unity in the room. A feeling that
somebody was finally able to say what a lot of folks have been thinking.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported: Outside the Neptune Theater in
Seattles University District, hundreds of moviegoers transformed the
sidewalk into a sort of mini-convention. Activists had no trouble selling
anti-Bush buttons and stickers and pitching various campaigns and causes.
Lila Rapcewicz, the first in line for a sold-out afternoon show June 25, told
the newspaper after the film showing, I feel more like my gut feeling has
come true. Were basically just living under a lie right now. The paper
reports: The Neptune burst with cheers from the moment the lights dimmed
until the closing credits. It sounded like a rally, with even a bit of
chanting at the end.
More information about the Rad-Green