Doc Box Office Milestones: 'Apollo 11' Crosses $9 mil., 'The Biggest Little Farm' Crosses $4 mil. and 'Pavarotti' Nears $4 mil.
A breakout year for docs in 2018 has been succeeded by another strong year
After a stunning 2018 for documentaries at the box office, there was concern 2019 might bring a considerable let down. But seven months into the year, there is ample evidence to suggest 2018 wasn't a fluke.
Pavarotti, the Ron Howard-directed documentary about the famed Italian tenor, stands just shy of the $4 million mark in total earnings after claiming the top spot among nonfiction films at the box office over the weekend. It will cross $4 million this week.
Apollo 11 added 92 screens over the weekend, a boost in locations timed to the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing mission that's chronicled in Todd Douglas Miller's film. The additional venues helped blast Apollo 11 past the $9 million mark in total earnings, according to audience tracker comScore.
The Biggest Little Farm crossed a milestone of its own, moving past the $4 million mark in its 11th week of release. The documentary directed by John Chester centers on a sustainable farm set up by the filmmaker and his wife Molly in California.
Echo in the Canyon, meanwhile, continued its box office run with another top five finish over the weekend. Andrew Slater's documentary on the rock n' roll scene that flourished in the mid-1960s in the Laurel Canyon section of LA, has made $2.7 million to date. It's another of 2019's big success stories.
The comparisons between 2019 and 2018 only go so far, however. A year ago at this time, Won't You Be My Neighbor? had already collected $18.5 million. RBG had tallied $13.1 million and Three Identical Strangers was more than a third of the way toward its eventual total of $12.3 million. It will be hard for any documentary released in 2019 to reach those numbers (Free Solo and They Shall Not Grow Old collected some of their box office earnings in 2019, but they were released in 2018).
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.