MacGillivray Freeman Films (MFF) has declared that Everest is now the highest grossing documentary of all time, amassing more than $120.6m in worldwide box office since it went on continual release on Mar 6 1998. Throughout its run Everest, a harrowing account of an ascent by three climbers in 1996, only played in 243 theatres worldwide in a total of 236 cities on six continents. It passed the previous mark set by MFF's To Fly!, which took $115.7m since its release in 1976. Directed by Greg MacGillivray, Stephen Judson and Alec Lorimore, Everest also broke records for the giant screen format, grossing $100m in less than two years. The giant screen format is a reliable money-spinner over a long period of time, and regularly yields higher grosses for a documentary than it would do in an ordinary theatrical run.

"Everest has become such a cultural phenomenon that captured the attention of the entire world, not only because of the tragic storm that cost eight lives, but because this was a film people connected to emotionally," MacGillivray said in a prepared statement. "The California-based company has been producing pictures for 40 years and claims to be the world's leading producer and distributor of picture for IMAX and large format theatres. It plans to release Coral Reef Adventure on Feb 14 this year, which centres on married underwater cinematographers Howard and Michele Hall.