Film by Betsy West and Julie Cohen takes top box office position from Pandas
Documentary fans are offering a judgment in favor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
RBG, the film about the 85-year-old Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, earned an impressive $578,470 in its opening weekend of theatrical release, easily capturing the top spot at the documentary box office, according to audience measurement company comScore. RBG displaced Pandas, the nature documentary that had reigned as number one for a month.
It shows the personal side of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the type of human being she is.
RBG collected an average of $17,014 on each of the 34 screens where it played, vastly outperforming other nonfiction films in theaters. Pandas, by contrast, played on 35 screens, with an average of $2,652 per screen for a total of $92,810. That was good enough for second place at the box office.
Betsy West and Julie Cohen directed the film about Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Clinton. The documentary enjoys a 93-percent favorable rating among critics as reported by Rotten Tomatoes.
RBG premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with the subject of the film in attendance. The Justice has become a hero to the left, earning the sobriquet 'Notorious RBG' for her sharp legal opinions in defense of women's rights, same sex marriage and other issues.
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg is about as popular, as culturally significant a Supreme Court Justice as we've ever had," LA Times critic Kenneth Turan noted in a video review of the documentary.
Her fame is such that she's even been portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Kate McKinnon.
Here are the top five films at the documentary box office for the weekend of May 4-6, as reported by comScore:
3. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
4. The Heart of Nuba
5. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
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.