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Monday, February 15, 2016

Michael Moore documentary bombs at the box office

Michael Moore's latest documentary, Where to Invade Next, has failed to live up to its bombastic title, pulling in the worst per-cinema opening weekend takings of the filmmaker's career.

On average the documentary made $3,030 in each of its 308 cinemas after opening on Friday - even less than the $3,810 per-cinema average of his sole panned feature film, Canadian Bacon, which has an average score of 14% on review site Rotten Tomatoes.

This may be a blow for Moore, whose films tend to open in a small number of cinemas before expanding to many more, says The Hollywood Reporter

Career low: Where to Invade Next, the latest documentary by Michael Moore (pictured), has made less per cinema in its opening weekend than any of his other films, pulling in $3,030 per cinema

Invasion: In the documentary, Moore travels to Europe to find out how other countries deal with some of the problems that affect the USA

Moore's last film, 2009's Capitalism: A Love Story, made $231,964 when it opened in just four theaters - an average of $57,991 per cinema. It then expanded to 962 theaters and pulled in a total of $4.4million, with an average of $4,263 per location.

In some ways, the results may seem positive: Where to Invade Next gave the filmmaker his second-biggest opener since Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004, with a total opening weekend gross of $933,240. Fahrenheit 9/11 made $23.9million.

However, the fact that Where to Invade Next was shown in 308 theaters gave The Hollywood Reporter pause for thought.

'It's the per-theater average, and not the opening gross, that is the true gauge of success for Moore,' wrote Hollywood Reporter senior writer Pamela McClintock, 'since all of his films, save for Fahrenheit 9/11, have opened in a limited number of locations before expanding.'

Those limited opening weekends include 33 cinemas for 1998's The Big One (with an average of $4,452 per cinema), eight for 2002's Bowling for Columbine ($26,143 per cinema), and just one for 2007's Sicko ($68,969). 

Sicko: Moore had to cancel a promotional tour around all 50 states when he was hospitalized with pneumonia. This may have contributed to the film's relatively poor performance.

Thought Sicko was an autobiography.

Where to Invade Next sees Moore traveling to Europe to find out how European countries deal with issues that affect the US and has been largely positively received by critics, being 'Certified Fresh' with a score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.

However, it has suffered pre-release difficulties. Its initial release date of December 23 was pushed back to January 15 and then February 12.

And Moore's plan to promote the film in all 50 states of the USA, as well as on TV shows Conan and Real Time With Bill Maher, were canceled when he was hospitalized with pneumonia. 

It is projected to make a total of $1 million for the opening weekend, giving an average of $3,256 per location.

To put things in perspective. Star Wars: The Force Awakens did $248 million in its opening weekend.


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