Raoul Peck film takes top spot; The Eagle Huntress approaches $3 mil. total
Raoul Peck's Oscar-nominated documentary on the late James Baldwin opened to strong business over the weekend, easily claiming the number one spot among all nonfiction films.
I Am Not Your Negro earned an impressive $686,378 at 43 locations across North America, according to audience measurement firm comScore. Its $15,962 per screen average outdid virtually every other film at the specialty box office.
The documentary, based on an uncompleted manuscript by Baldwin, will play in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival on February 15. On February 26 I Am Not Your Negro competes for the Academy Award for best feature documentary.
The success of I Am Not Your Negro knocked The Eagle Huntress from number one, where it had been nesting for most of the last two months. Otto Bell's documentary came in third over the weekend, collecting another $43,421 on 48 screens. Its total after 14 weeks of release stands at $2,939,501, comScore reported.
Another newcomer to theaters, Mr. Gaga, opened in fourth place, playing on just two screens. Tomer Heymann directed the film about choreographer Ohad Naharin, artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv (a company co-founded in the 1960s by Martha Graham).
Coming in fifth among documentaries over the weekend was Mifune: The Last Samurai, which is now in its 11th week of release. Steven Okazaki directed the film about the legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who collaborated with Akira Kurosawa on many of the director's greatest films, including Rashomon and Seven Samurai. Keanu Reeves narrates the documentary, which includes commentary from Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
The top five documentaries at the North American box office, as reported by comScore:
1. I Am Not Your Negro [Magnolia Pictures]
2. A Beautiful Planet [IMAX]
3. The Eagle Huntress [Sony Pictures Classics]
4. Mr. Gaga [Abramorama]
5. Mifune: The Last Samurai [Strand Releasing]
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.