How Did Religulous Do at the Box Office? October 6, 2008

How Did Religulous Do at the Box Office?

Here’s the update:

Over the weekend, Bill Maher‘s Religulous made $3,519,000 in around 500 theaters for a $6,972 per theater average.

That puts it in 10th place for the weekend box office. (Sadly, it’s behind Kirk Cameron‘s pro-Christianity movie Fireproof (8th place) which was in ~850 theaters.)

However, it did do better than Expelled did on its opening weekend — Expelled made $2,970,848 in just over 1,000 theaters in its first days. In all, it made $7,690,545.

Religulous looks like it will surpass that mark next week.

As far as documentaries go, it is likely to crack the all-time Top Ten List.

PZ Myers points out a few more important distinctions:

Religulous hasn’t had much of an advertising campaign. Remember all the Expelled commercials everywhere, including The Daily Show? Maher’s movie has only relatively recently been getting plugged. It’s ads are more intelligently targeted, though.

Religulous is coming off its opening weekend with great word of mouth and good critical reviews. Expelled attendance plummeted steadily from the first day onward.

One to think about, and maybe this isn’t a difference: Expelled had a built-in base of evangelical Christians to draw on (although many were disgusted by it, too). Does Religulous also draw upon a base of freethinkers? Is there a neglected audience for more godless entertainment? Will advertisers and investors figure this out?

It just goes to show: If you want your movie to succeed, don’t interview PZ for it 🙂

One more note: In 1st place this weekend? Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

If that doesn’t give you an accurate snapshot of our country’s collective intelligence, nothing does.

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  • Michael

    I watched it Saturday. However, I live in West Virginia and despite being surrounded by three theaters in a 20 minute drive, I still had to drive all the way to Pittsburgh to watch it. Even then, there were only about 15-20 people in the theater, including myself and my 2 friends that went with me.


    But I did like it. Definitely getting the DVD.

  • alinvain

    I was thrilled to find that Religulous was playing nearby. I live 80 miles from Detroit and I thought that was where I would have to go. It is playing at a mall in Burton, MI, a suburb of Flint affectionately nicknamed “Burtucky.” It was surprisingly well attended and unsurprisingly laugh out loud funny. There was no protest. There was applause at the end of the film.

  • Lyz

    I was going to watch a movie last night, but I’m waiting to see R. with a local group, and there is NOTHING else out there. Why is BH chihuahua in first place? Because your other options are either worse or nonexistant. Generic action flicks 48,645,834 and 48,645,835, and romantic drama 11,235, and bad comedies 845,135 and 845,136. Sure, it might suck, but if you’re looking to watch something with your family, that’s your option.

  • Tom

    I don’t know why you point out the collective intelligence of “this” country as being exclusively stupid. This movie would have done just as well in any European country… People are people wherever you go, the collective intelligence of humanity needs work

  • The #1 and #2 films this weekend made around $9,000 and $8,000 per theater respectively and they were each playing in about 3,000 theaters.

    If Religulous were playing in 3,000 theaters instead of 500, it would likely be in third or fourth place.

  • mikespeir

    However, it did do better than Expelled did on its opening weekend — Expelled made $2,970,848 in just over 1,000 theaters in its first days. In all, it made $7,690,545.

    And considering how the economy has tanked since Expelled, that ain’t half bad.

  • Desert Son

    Hemant posted:

    If that doesn’t give you an accurate snapshot of our country’s collective intelligence, nothing does.

    I’m not sure that does give an accurate snapshot of our country’s collective intelligence, as a matter of fact. I think what it does give is an accurate snapshot of our country’s particular inclination on how to spend money on movie-related media this past weekend, given factors such as time available, mass-media options available, and all sorts of individual differences/preferences that we don’t know about.

    I haven’t seen Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and have no plans to do so, but I fully admit that occasionally, I want to just watch something that is light entertainment that doesn’t require me to think too much or devote much attentional resources, because I need a break, or just a soft laugh, or something to relieve the tension, and I think that’s not a comment on my intelligence, or anyone else’s, for that matter.

    No kings,


  • I went to the first possible veiwing in Calgary, and am happy to say the theatre was packed and very well received.

    I am not happy to say that the local radio station was very critical of the movie, and even lied about content included. At one point even stated that everyone will find something offensive about this movie, which is what the makers intended to do. I can confirm that everyone I know who’s seen the movie really enjoyed it and were not offended at all.

    Also, when you do see it, count how many times they do a close up conversation with Maher in the van where you can either see a lighter in his hand or smoke sneak onto screen. It made me laugh.

  • I second Desert Son/Robert. Might I also add that the reason why light-weight, fluffy films like Beverly Hills Chihuahua do so well isn’t necessarily due to the intelligence (or lack thereof) of the general populace, but because it is a family film, meaning that it has a broader audience and, by being among the few films at any given time that children of relatively young age can see, often get higher turnout among that demographic, due to the fact that they are generally confined in options. Factor in that parents would often be forced to attend along with a child interested in viewing it, even if they themselves were not compelled to watch it outside of the babysitting role, and it is easy to tell why it’s box office rank isn’t necessarily an indication of its appeal to the adult population.

  • Larry Huffman

    Yes…I have to state that gauging our nations intellect by using movies is not valid. It is wrong to think that intelligent people do not like mindless humor or such from time to time. I do. I can watch some downright stupid, goofy stuff…and enjoy it. In fact, sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered.

    On top of that…with the way things are going: serious economic problems, vital presidential election looming and our nation mired in an illegal and unwanted war…well, I cannot blame people for going to see check-your-brain-at-the-door movies.

    We have not really used movies to educate, we use them primarily to entertain. Michael Moore and a few others have begun to bring education and critical thinking to the theaters…with success. This is another good step in that direction…but I doubt we will see in the near future a time when documentaries about serious issues that require thought and analysis replace mindless movies solely made to entertain.

    Also…it is simple economics. I go to theaters to see those films which would be diminished by watching them on TV (such as the Harry potter movies…or other such action or fantasy type movies). I have 4 kids…so for 6 of us to see a movie, it is expensive. It is far more economic for me to wait when we can and purchase the DVD. For the same price as the tickets for 6 of us to see this movie in a theater, I can own the movie and treat my family to a nice dinner as well. I know it does not support the movie makers numbers the way they want…but the cost of movies is just outrageous anymore.

  • Gabriel

    I hope that it doing so well with such a limited screening will move it to more screens. It isn’t playing anywhere near me. I want to see it but I will not drive 4 hours to see any movie when I know that I can get it on DVD soon enough.

  • Milena

    Don’t be so defensive, you guys. Nobody is actually judging your country by the types of movies you watch. The intelligence quip was probably just a joke. Sort of a low blow, to be sure, but nothing to get so worked up about. Unless, of course, you were all part of BH Chihuahua’s audience this weekend, hmm. 😉

  • Larry Huffman

    No one is getting bent out of shape or anything…it has just become somewhat common to view the state of our nation, intellect, etc…by what we choose for entertainment. It is not a very accurate barometer is all we are saying.

  • I saw the movie on Sunday afternoon. All showings all weekend here in Salt Lake City were sold out or pretty close to selling out. Only 10 or so empty seats in the 5:20pm showing I went to.

    Loved the movie, well done, funny and I will see it again and buy the DVD. Everyone, even those who belong to organized religion, should open their minds long enough to go see this film.

  • I watched it Saturday in Concord, NH and the place was sold out! It was the only theatre in this little state to actually show the film. Although the film poked a lot of fun at religion, I thought Bill presented himself in an open-minded fashion, so I think that people that do subscribe to a particular brand of faith could see the film without getting incredibly offended.

  • Paul

    We saw it in Oklahoma City Saturday night, and it was packed.

  • BC

    I saw Religulous in Memphis twice over the weekend with several local freethinkers — on the only screen at the only theater here showing it. The theater attendance was at near capacity, the laughter throughout was constant, and the applause at the end was a great sign for this bible-belt dump. Oh, and the movie was awesome, BTW.

    An increase in the number of theaters for next weekend would be a wise decision for the producers (or for what/whom/whoever makes that decision).

  • well, i would def. go see it, but it’s not playing in my city. it’s playing two hours away, but i’m not driving that far to go see that. i hope it makes it in the top 10!

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