David Hogberg dusts
off his abacus and assesses Sicko's box office haul.
[Sicko] premiered in 441 theaters and grossed $4.5 million for an average theater gross of about $10,200. That was good enough for 9th place... His previous film Fahrenheit 9/11 premiered in 868 theaters in its opening weekend and grossed $23.9 million, for an average theater gross of about $27,560. Relative to his last film, Sicko is a bit of a dud.
Having been stuck in the political media trenches for the publicity campaigns of both films, I have some theories. Fahrenheit 9/11 was sold as a gut-busting satire and as an expose that would push stories you hadn't heard before (which turned out to be the dull Saudi Arabia sections). It had an unbeatable hype vehicle: Disney refused to distribute the film and Moore got to run around crying censorship as he lined up a new distributor. Moore's celebrity was absolutely burning up: He'd won the Oscar for Bowling for Columbine only a year before the Fahrenheit hype began and relished in the controversy, giving big-ticket speeches, hitting the campaign trail for Wesley Clark. After the election and before Sicko he retreated from the public sphere. Maybe it was a preventive measure to keep him from becoming overexposed, a lefty agit-prop Scott Baio. More likely it was because he was exhausted by the attention.
Was a movie about health care destined to be less successful than a movie about the 43rd president released in the heat of an election year? Oh, probably.
Reason's own Michael C. Moynihan reviewed Sicko.