There must have been much pulling of hair and gnashing ofteeth at the neophyte right-wing outfit Move America Forward this weekfollowing the stunning number one opening of Fahrenheit 9/11. The conservative activists' were left with egg ontheir faces after a spectacularly ill-judged strategy unwittingly helpedMichael Moore and the "coalition of the willing" that released the picture inthe US.

By calling for a boycott and urging exhibitors to drop Fahrenheit 9/11 from their schedules,the people at Move America Forward learned that attempts to limit freedom ofspeech not only fly in the face of the US Constitution, but tend to inspire theopposite reaction among people who like to think for themselves.

Remember all the fuss surrounding The Passion Of The Christ' Mel Gibson's epic went on to gross $370mand counting. Fahrenheit 9/11 won'tcome near that amount, but it has a shot at $100m after its record breaking$23.9m bow on 868 screens.

This was the first time a documentary had ever opened numberone in the US charts, and the biggest opening of all time for a documentary(see table), already overtaking the $21.6m total gross of the previousrecord-holder, Moore's Bowling ForColumbine (the record excludes concert films and IMAX non-fiction releases). Fahrenheit 9/11's relentlessanti-Bush invective elicited mostly enthusiastic reviews and averaged $27,558per screen, which is more than many documentaries take in their first weekend.

Lions Gate, IFC Films and the Weinsteins' FellowshipAdventure Group plan to expand over Independence Day Weekend and again on Jul9, possibly taking it up to 2,000 screens. According to the distributors, Fahrenheit 9/11 also set a new recordfor a wide release under 1,000 screens, beating Rocky III's $12.4m from 939 in 1982. "This is a film that speaks tothe American spirit and has clearly been embraced by the American movie-goingpublic," Lions Gate Films president Tom Ortenberg said earlier this week.