Controversy doesn't always sell, and Newmarket Films found this out the hard way over the weekend with its dismal receipts from Death of a President. The faux doc grossed only $282,000 from the 143 theaters it played at in the U.S. and Canada, and its per-screen average was only $1,970. Compare that with the much better Shut Up & Sing, which also opened over the weekend with appeal to the Bush-hating crowd; it played in only four theaters for a per-screen average of $12,525. Plus, if we look at NYC's box office, which is a better gauge for small films like DoaP and SU&S, the latter made $21,159 (in two theaters), while the former made less than half that, at $9,043 (in three theaters).

Considering the $1 million that Newmarket reportedly paid for the film, the take is very disappointing. Still, there is a good chance that even moviegoers turned off from the subject matter will be more curious in the privacy of their own homes, and the distributor should make its money back through DVD and TV sales. But the numbers should show that such awareness does not always mean anticipation. The same was true last summer with the opening gross for Snakes on a Plane(coincidentally, DoaP rhymes with SoaP).

More on Death of a President:

Netscape Video: Death of a President

TIFF Review: Death of a President

Death of a President: There's No Publicity Like No Publicity

Death of a President -- in the U.S.?