Box Office: Michael Moore's 'Where to Invade Next' Marks Career Low

Michael Moore
Courtesy of Dog Eat Dog Films

The documentary's opening per-theater average comes in behind any of Moore's previous films.

Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next wasn't greeted by a victory march at the box office, where its per-theater average ranked below those of the filmmaker's previous offerings.

Where to Invade — Moore's first film in six years — opened to an estimated $897,034 from 308 theaters for the three-day holiday weekend, according to final figures released on Monday. That puts the per-location average at $2,912, the worst of the filmmaker's documentary career behind the $4,452 theater average of The Big One, which opened to $146,909 from 33 theaters in 1998. And it's also behind the $3,810 average of his one feature, Canadian Bacon, which debuted to $53,345 from 14 theaters in 1995. $933,240 from 308 theaters for the three-day holiday weekend. 

For the four-day holiday, Where to Invade looks to earn $1 million for a location average of $3,256.

By one measure, Where to Invade could be perceived as a silver medalist. It's the second-biggest opening gross for Moore behind Fahrenheit 9/11, which still holds the crown for the top-grossing doc of all time in the U.S. with $119.1 million. Fahrenheit, which opened to $23.9 million, scored a hefty location average of $27,558 when it bowed nationwide in 868 locations in 2004.

But it's the per-theater average, and not the opening gross, that is the true gauge of success for Moore, since all of his films, save for Fahrenheit, have opened in a limited number of locations before expanding. His last film, Capitalism: A Love Story, earned $231,964 from four theaters in 2009 for a theater average of $57,991. A week later, it expanded into a total of 962 locations, grossing $4.4 million for a location average of $4,263.

In 2007, Sicko opened to $68,969 from one theater before rolling out in 441 locations a week later, grossing a stellar $4.5 million from only 441 cinemas for a location average of $10,207. And Bowling for Columbine secured a location average of $26,143 when debuting in eight theaters in 2002.

Where to Invade, in which Moore visits countries that offer a better version of the American dream, has faced a series of challenges since premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2015.

In September, Moore sold the film to a new company headed by ex-Radius chiefs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego alongside Alamo Drafthouse Films Tim League. But the new venture still doesn't have a name; nor has it identified its financial backers. (Where to Invade went out through Drafthouse Films.)

Where to Invade was originally slotted to open nationwide on Dec. 23, in time for awards consideration, but its release was pushed to Jan. 15 and then to Feb. 12. (It did get an awards qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles in late December.)

And Moore, a tireless champion for his movies, had planned a 50-state tour to promote the film, but the tour was scrubbed. Instead, Moore was hospitalized for pneumonia and had to cancel appearances on Conan and Real Time With Bill Maher.

Feb. 15, 11 a.m. Updated with final weekend numbers.

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