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'Fahrenheit 9/11' Tops North American Box Office
by repost
Sunday Jun 27th, 2004 12:24 PM
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Moore's red-hot documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" earned more in its first three days of release across North America than his Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine" did in its entire run, the film's distributors said on Sunday.
"Fahrenheit 9/11," in which Moore takes aim at President Bush, and the war in Iraq, opened at No. 1 after selling about $21.8 million worth of tickets in the United States and Canada since June 25.

The film opened in two theaters in New York on Wednesday to help build even more media buzz before expanding to a relatively modest 868 theaters two days later. (In contrast, most of the other movies in the top five were playing in more than 2,500 theaters each.)

Including the sales from the head start in New York, the film's total stands at $21.96 million. Moore's previous movie, "Bowling for Columbine," grossed about $21.5 million during its nine-month run, during which it peaked at about 250 theaters, according to Moore.

"This is a testament to Michael Moore. His voice resonates across the country in what I think we can all now fairly describe as America's movie," said Tom Ortenberg, the president of distribution at Lions Gate Films, which backed the movie.

He said in a conference call that the film played strongly in both Democrat and Republican states, even drawing sell-out crowds in Republican strongholds like Nassau County, New York and Fayetteville, N.C., home of Fort Bragg.

Lions Gate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., partnered on the film's distribution with IFC Films, a unit of Cablevision Systems Corp.'s Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, and Miramax co-chairmen Harvey and Bon Weinstein. The Weinsteins bought the movie's rights with their own money after Miramax parent Walt Disney Co. refused to let them release it under the Miramax banner.

The movie cost about $6 million to make, according to Moore. Additionally, the distributors spent less than $10 million -- a relatively modest sum -- to market the movie, said Ortenberg.

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