Fahrenheit 9/11 fulfilled its destiny and became the first documentary in historyto pass $100m at the US box office at the weekend, reaching the milestone onSaturday (24), its 32nd day of release.
Michael Moore's anti-Bush polemic grossed an estimated $5m in1,855 theatres and dropped 30% for a $103.4m running total, going into itsfifth week.
Speaking in a conference call with reporters yesterday (25), Mooresaid he hoped Fahrenheit 9/11 would be released on DVD before the Presidential Election inNovember, although it is understood Lions Gate top brass may keep the picturein theatres until the end of the year and possibly into 2005 because it isplaying so well.
"[This] shows the American people haven't been given the wholestory these last three years and they don't think they've been given the truth,so they've gone to the movie theatres to learn the truth and begin theimportant discussion that needs to take place in this country," Moore said,adding that he was naturally delighted with the film's success.
"It's really cool to talk about politics and this is the firsttime I've seen this happen. Being apathetic right now is very un-cool and thevoting public is energised," he said.
"We are seeing a new era of film-making. Now the challenge tomyself and other non-fiction film-makers is to keep on making movies peoplewant to see because we know the audience is there."
While he refused to discuss contractual details, Moore said he hadnever seen "a dime" in profit from any of his pictures, but did say that thesuccess of Fahrenheit 9/11 meant he would have no trouble making his next picture, which isexpected to be a typically robust broadside against the US healthcare system.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is at the vanguard of a raft of released and upcomingleft-leaning documentaries that includes Outfoxed, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About TheIraq War, The HuntingOf The President and OrwellRolls In His Grave.
Sticking to his populist guns, Moore said he made the picture tostimulate debate and encourage people to vote. He said he had never beencontacted by Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry's team, nor did hewant that to happen. "I didn't make this movie for them."
Moore no doubt intends to take the discussion a step further whenhe addresses the National Black Caucus today (26) and receives an award astheir guest at the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Lions Gate Films executive vice president of theatricaldistribution Steve Rothenberg said the picture was playing well across thecountry, particularly in the metropolitan areas on the East and West coasts.
"When you make powerfulmovies it's impossible to keep people away," Rothenberg said. "It doesn'tmatter what genre it is; people will keep coming and it's given us the impetusto stay in this field and continue to distribute films like this that peoplewant to see."
Moore cited several regional theatres where audiences had benefited from the largesse of anonymous donors who bought out entire screenings and offered free tickets to the public, like the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse in Milwaukee. Rosebud owner Jay Hollis confirmed this took place at his theatre twice last week, adding that another screening had been almost entirely bought out by an anonymous donor at the weekend.