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For nearly eight years, Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 has held the record as Lionsgate’s top-grossing domestic movie, but its reign ends this weekend as The Hunger Games hits movie theaters.
Gary Ross’ adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel about teenage gladiators, starring Jennifer Lawrence, is on track to rack up a blockbuster weekend – the movie collected $19.7 million at its midnight bows – and as early as Saturday, it will become the top-grossing movie in Lionsgate’s history, topping the $119.2 million that Fahrenheit collected when it was released in 2004.
Moore himself acknowledged the passing of the box office crown in a tweet on Friday, writing, “A record will fall this weekend: Fahrenheit 9/11, the largest grossing movier ever released by Lionsgate, will be replaced by TheHungerGames.”
Produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein during their tenure at Miramax Films, the $6 million movie, which recounts the build up to the war in Iraq in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, became a political hot potato following its debut at the Cannes Film Festival. When Disney, which then owned Miramax, refused to allow Miramax to release the film, the Weinsteins bought it back and then reached a deal to distribute it through Lionsgate and IFC Films.
Released on June 25, 2004, Fahrenheit went on to gross $119.2 million domestically and another $103.3 in foreign markets, where it was handled by various local distributors. Its worldwide total is $222.4 million. However, while Moore’s previous documentary 2002’s Bowling for Columbine won the Oscar for best documentary, Fahrenheit failed to earn an Academy Award nomination.
But Fahrenheit’s status as Lionsgate’s top-grosser remained secure for eight years. Its closest challenger came in 2010, when Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables grossed $103.1 million. The studio’s other top-grosses, which will now all be overshadowed by Hunger Games are Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, which grossed $90.5 million in 2009; Saw II, which brought in $87 million in 2005; and Saw III, which posted $80.2 million in 2006.
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