Penguins ice the rankings…

Since its opening on June 24, 2005 March of the Penguins has done over $40 million at the box office domestically. Making it the second biggest documentary ticket seller of all time. After just about everyone I know asking me if I had yet seen “the penguin movie” I thought it was time to take the plunge. Yesterday after plunking down my $10 I found myself in a dark theater at 5:30 in the afternoon with about 30 other people oohing and aahing over the penguins, their remarkable lifestyle and the breathtaking scenery.

Sure, they must be spending a ton on advertising. Sure, it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Sure, it’s rated G. It’s got a lot going for it. It’s a good, solid, beautiful, not too long movie. It is surprisingly violent for a “family film”. But, there’s no PG-8 rating. And it certainly isn’t PG-13. (But we’ll have to take on the MPAA another day.)

The good news is people are going to see a smart, well-made, educational documentary as if it were Shrek. Some of the kids in the audience were a little restless. But, I’d rather they’d be checking out the new doc that everyone’s into instead of flocking to see Herbie Fully Loaded.

For the past 5 years I’ve been reading and writing about documentaries. And the consensus has been that docs are on the upswing, people want to see them. I recently heard Peter Broderick (a prominent producer’s rep and film consultant) say, ‘we’re in luck because Hollywood is producing content free films.” It couldn’t be truer. Surely people are seeking something with more substance. And they are most surely seeking it in theatres. According to my math and Box Office Mojo of the top 20 grossing films, only 5 of them are pre 2000. Talk about a shake-up in the all time rankings.

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