RBG continues robust theatrical performance over Memorial Day Weekend
RBG, the hit film about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, continues its ascent into rarified territory at the doc box office.
The documentary directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen added another $662,952 to its total over the Memorial Day Weekend, according to audience tracker comScore. It has now collected more than $4.5 mil. in four weeks of theatrical release.
We are the documentary of the year.
"We are the documentary of the year," Neal Block, president of distribution at Magnolia Pictures, exulted in an interview with Vanity Fair.
It's not bragging when it's true, as they say, and the box office figures bear out the executive's assessment. In the last three years, only a few documentaries have exceeded the results for RBG -- among them Asif Kapadia's Amy ($8.4 mil.); Raoul Peck's I Am Not Your Negro ($7.1 mil.), and Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, the right-wing red meat film directed by Dinesh D'Souza that made $13.1 mil.
RBG delves into the associate justice's legal career and advocacy for women's rights, along with her successful marriage to Martin Ginsburg, her husband of 56 years who died in 2010. The success of the film surely reflects in part the energy behind resistance to President Trump; during the 2016 presidential campaign Ginsburg blasted the Republican candidate as a "faker."
"He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego," Ginsburg charged in one interview. "How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that."
Ginsburg later expressed regret for publicly criticizing candidate Trump. Trump at the time called for her to resign, adding in a tweet that "her mind is shot." Given continued widespread admiration for Ginsburg's legal acumen, Trump's view must be considered a minority opinion.
Ginsburg's position in popular culture is such that she has earned the sobriquet Notorious RBG, a play on the name of late rapper Notorious B.I.G. She has been impersonated multiple times on Saturday Night Live by cast member Kate McKinnon.
Coming in second at the doc box office behind RBG was Wim Wenders' papal documentary Pope Francis: A Man of His Word. In its second week of release the film earned almost $300,000, pushing its total to $850,465, comScore reported.
The top five documentaries in theaters over Memorial Day Weekend, as tabulated by comScore:
1. RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen
2. Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, directed by Wim Wenders
3. Pandas, directed by David Douglas and Drew Fellman
4. Always at the Carlyle, directed by Matthew Miele
5. That Summer, directed by Göran Hugo Olsson
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.