Saturday, June 26

We'll move ourselves forward, thank you.

Remember how the consulting group called "Move America Forward" last week took comfort in the fact that Fahrenheit 9/11 was showing in only about 500 theaters nationwide?
Aside from the fact that the actual number is 868, this triumphant claim has been put to shame by the box office report released today that shows Fahrenheit 9/11 to be the top grossing film this weekend, the first documentary ever to reach number one. Yes, films like "White Chicks" and "Dodgeball" and "Harry Potter #14" are playing in more than three times as many theaters, but are making less money.


Film title -- no. of theaters -- weekend gross

Fahrenheit 9/11 -- 868 -- $21,800,000
Harry Potter... -- 3404 -- $11,420,000
Thus, while the bubble-gum films are spaciously received by corporate America, Americans of many stripes are flocking to Moore's latest movie and claiming it as their own.

Here in Buffalo, NY, a strange phenomenon has occurred. Since there is essentially only one theater in town showing the film (although it is playing at two theaters in driving distance), huge crowds have amassed in front of the theater, which has sold nearly 3,000 tickets (full capacity) for the third day in a row. Yesterday, I roller-bladed in a lot across from the theater and, over the course of an hour and a half, saw no slackening of the line. In fact, that line remained there all afternoon, until all the day's three thousand tickets were sold out. It cheered me just to glance over there once in a while and see so many people waiting to get in.

In the interest of balance, I asked one of the ticket takers if he had heard any negative opinions voiced about the film. He told me that the film is roundly applauded every time, but that one guy, who was walking into the only other film showing, namely Saved, said to him, about Fahrenheit 9/11, "Showing that film is treason!" On hearing this, I said to the ticket taker, but didn't that guy realize that seeing Saved is sacrilegious?

Not only film goers, but citizen activists have shown up at the theater. You can find Rock the Vote people with their music-blaring pick-up truck parked in the theater lot, passing out voter registration forms. There's a Vietnam Vet member handing out "9/11 dollar bills." And then you have representatives from and some student groups handing out bumper stickers and such. It's a wonderful atmosphere. Democracy seems to have sprung to life. And the Amherst theater has essentially become the hottest social spot in town!

If you haven't noticed already, Michael Moore has posted many accounts like this one that illustrate the incredible enthusiasm Americans are showing for this film.