Most of the stories describing the debut weekend success of Fahrenheit 9/11 refer to its shattering of box office records for documentaries, and that's all true. But really the numbers show general, and surprising, box office success for its first weekend. How long that will keep up, who knows. But look at the numbers as reported by Variety this morning (subscription, so no link):
Fahrenheit 9/11 opened on 868 screens and brought in $25,115 "per engagement." The next most successful movie this weekend was White Chicks, which also debuted and played on 2,726 screens -- about triple that of Fahrenheit, yet it brought in only $7,190 per engagement. Dodgeball, which had been out a week already, played on 3,020 screens over the weekend and earned $6,126 on average per screen.
Fahrenheit also had the best opening weekend for a Palme D'Or winner, bringing in a gross of $21.8 million compared to Pulp Fiction's $9.3 million after it won at Cannes.
Variety also reports that it marked the first time a weekend's No. 1 film played at fewer than 1,000 theaters since 1994, when "Four Weddings and a Funeral" pulled in $4.2 million from 721 screens.