Nonfiction films are enjoying their best collective theatrical performance in years
The documentary box office has sprung to life in a major way this summer after years of relative quiescence.
The boom continued over the weekend with Morgan Neville's Won't You Be My Neighbor? earning another $2.6 mil., according to audience tracker comScore. The documentary about children's television personality Fred Rogers finished in first place once again, pushing its total to $12,362,937 after five weeks of release.
Won't You Be My Neighbor? also surpassed the box office total of the summer's other major hit, RBG. The film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made $357,808 over the weekend, putting its cume at $12,302,369, comScore reported.
I think what you see with Won't You Be My Neighbor? or RBG is that there's a kind of hunger for movies that are not popcorn movies but that make us feel good about who we are as human beings.
This weekend also marked the theatrical debut of Whitney, Kevin Macdonald's documentary about the late Whitney Houston. Its performance -- $1,274,051 -- augurs well for a continued hot streak for nonfiction titles in the coming weeks.
The highest per screen total of the weekend belonged to Three Identical Strangers, Tim Wardle's unlikely tale of triplets who were separated shortly after birth and only reunited by chance as adults. It made $13,427 on 51 screens, which works out to a robust total of $684,773. That was enough to push the film's cume to over $1 mil. after just two weeks of release.
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.