Based on estimates by the film's distributors, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 will earn $21.8 million and in the process become not only the #1 film in the country but will surpass the box office record for a documentary (not including concert or IMAX films) in its first weekend of release. Bowing on only 868 screens, the film is set to average a staggering $25,115 per screen, the 3rd highest average this year among wide releases, behind only Shrek 2 and The Passion of the Christ. (I bet this is the only occasion where those two films are paired in the same sentence!)
In a prepared statement Moore addressed the core theme of the film by saying, "The soul
of this movie is that it stands up for our soldiers on the ground in Iraq by asking the question the majority of
Americans want answered: Why are our soldiers there? This is a question that should have been asked over a year ago and
that is why I believe the movie is doing so well and why I am so proud of it."
The film is setting records on a regular basis in its march to the top of the pile, including: The highest opening weekend ever for a documentary of any type, including IMAX and concert films; the highest opening ever for a wide release under 1,000 screens, beating previous record holder Rocky III in 1982, and the highest opening ever for a Palm d'Or winner, beating previous record holder Pulp Fiction which opened with a relatively paltry $9,311,882 on almost 500 more theaters.
This may just be developing into the indie film story of the year, folks. I'm seeing the film tonight and will, of course, let you know what I thought!