Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s latest offering Fahrenheit 11/9 flopped in its opening weekend, grossing $3.1 million despite its wide release.
The documentary about President Donald Trump’s election and administration made an estimated $3,101,000 this past weekend on 1,719 screens, according to Box Office Mojo. Documentaries are generally given a limited release to generate buzz, but Moore gambled that his prominence and the media attention on the film could lead to results at the box office.
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The movie’s per-screen average of $1,800 falls below trackers’ expectations as well as previous Moore films, such as his hit Fahrenheit 9/11, whose title is referenced by Fahrenheit 11/9. The 2004 documentary focused on the Bush administration and received lavish praise from critics, while his new film has also received positive reviews yet hasn’t generated as much audience interest.
According to the Wrap, independent trackers had Fahrenheit 11/9 making $5-7 million, so the actual returns from the weekend are disappointing. The numbers don’t compare well to Moore’s previous movies either: Fahrenheit 9/11’s opening with $23.9 million on 868 screens, healthcare documentary Sicko made $3.6 million from 702 screens, and Capitalism: A Love Story brought in $4.4 million from 962 screens.
Moore was able to garner robust media attention for the film despite Trump’s constant prominence across all media. He appeared on MSNBC, HBO, and other places to promote the film, and he remains a popular figure in some corners of the far left.
On MSNBC, Moore said Trump could be the last president of the U.S., arguing his administration may bring the country into total chaos. The movie itself did get some attention for its comparison of Trump to Adolf Hitler.
In a year where some documentaries have performed well at the box office, some have questioned whether the Trump administration is the right topic to drive audience interest.
"With documentaries, it often just comes down to the subject matter," comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told the Wrap. "With a film like ‘RBG’ you had a very positive, inspiring story about a Supreme Court Justice, and with so much attention paid to the current political divide, each type of film has to succeed on its own merits while trying to appeal to those beyond its core audience."