Expelled‘s Weekend Box Office: Part 2

On Friday, Expelled made $1,200,000.

On Saturday, receipts totaled less than $1,000,000.

On Sunday, the movie made even less than that.

Expelled was the only movie on the weekend box office list to make less money on Saturday than Friday.

I’d still like to see the comparison of how much the movie cost to make versus how much it made in theaters… but it’s doubtful that anyone will be able to call it “successful” by any conventional means.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Erik

    God obviously hates this movie.

  • Claire

    As Samuel Goldwyn once said, they stayed away in droves.

    I suddenly feel a little better about humanity.

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    I don’t think financial return was the goal here. I don’t think showing the movie to a large number of viewers was ever the goal here. I believe wholeheartedly that the goal of this film, from the very beginning, has always been simply to generate controversy. The film need not be seen for its message to get out. Its entire message is available in the tagline of the film. That’s all they want the public to believe. In fact, it is far better for them if no one ever sees the film. Their claim is far easier to believe if you never actually watch them attempt to justify it.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    It’s obviously not a blockbuster action-packed-must-see-on-the-big-screen movie. It’s something that most of us can wait to rent.
    The box office results is not a good indicator of whether the movie was a success or not.

  • Mriana

    I didn’t think it would go over very well. BIG bellyflop and a waste of money.

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    Too bad their theistard base would simply lap it up.

    Most of the theistards we are trying to reach would not need to see the movie in order to believe in their stupid unscientific myths.

  • Renacier

    These box office results are undeniable proof that the Darwinist Censor Machine is in full operation.

  • http://wayofthewoo.blogspot.com Jim Chatham

    Given the film grosses about $3.4 million in 1052 theaters, then it made about $3200 per theater or about $1100 per day (conservatively estimating everything here). Assuming a ticket costs $10 and there were only 3 showings per theater per day, we can estimate that, on average, there were no more than 37 people per screen for this film.

    BTW, thanks for your posts. I’m finding many useful resource here.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    Maybe people just aren’t as interested in “persecuted” Christian scientists as Ben Stein thought they would be.

  • http://wherewemakeourstand.wordpress.com jjberg

    …but it’s doubtful that anyone will be able to call it “successful” by any conventional means.

    except for Chris Mooney….*rolls eyes*

  • cautious

    In addition to Chris Mooney, Randy Olson, aka the guy behind Flock of Dodos, also thinks the movie did somewhat well for itself.

    And I think they are making a valid point. If we believe the numbers that BoxOfficeMojo has accumulated so far, Expelled is the 26th highest-earning documentary in American film history, earning just slightly less money in 3 days than Grizzly Man did in 100. And Grizzly Man actually told an intriguing and true story.

    It’s not going to make as much money as the documentary that broke all documentary records, Fahrenheit 9/11. And it’s not going to make as much money as the Christian movie that broke all Christian movie records, The Passion of the Christ. But it has done an amazing job so far of presenting an anti-science, anti-atheist, and anti-evolution viewpoint to moviegoers.

    How do we convince those people that there was no link between Darwin and Hitler? How do we convince those people that scientists, including those working in evolutionary science, actually embrace a plurality of religious viewpoints, and that no one really got expelled?

    Question: How much effort would it have taken to film, produce, and distribute videos, via YouTube, that specifically counter the Expelled martyr stories about their academic careers? We’ve known who was interviewed for the past few months, they are promoted heavily on the Expelled website.

    Answer: Apparently more effort than the NCSE is willing to do, since instead they only recently created a video about a teacher who was fired for being critical of creationism. That’s…that’s not particularly going to make good in-roads with communicating with people who think that creationism shouldn’t be criticized, but … um… at least they finally found YouTube?

  • Andrew

    10 dollars? Tickets are 4 bucks here. Plus there tend to be more like four or five showings. So I would think the actual turnout was even less. We saw Sara Marshall Friday night and it was friggin packed!

    I would really really like to know what Expelled cost. But a cursory search reveals no numbers.

  • imminentdoom

    just saw a NYTimes page saying the movie was a disaster. On the comments page there was the A-typical rantings of christians posing as intelligent people, and knowing something about science even though everything they say goes directly against scientific method. It deeply pains me to see people in such a state of pompous stupor. How do you break people of such a strong sense of righteousness when they cannot even see the wrong they are doing in plain sight? =(

  • Mriana

    Depends on where you live. Tickets are like $10 for adults here too. Popcorn is $4 and a drink is $2. It’s not cheap at all to see a movie anymore. If you want to see a movie anymore in this area, you have to figure about $20/per adult.

  • andyinsdca

    This movie will do gangbusters DVD sales…just wait. It will be purchased en masse by churches and other groups. Remember, if a guy wants to take a family of four to see a movie, that’s over $40 for just tickets. He can buy this propaganda (err….movie) $12 and rewatch it a million times with his family and fellow travellers.

  • chancelikely

    It did worse than they wanted it to, and better than we wanted it to. Seems Americans are dumber than we hoped, but smarter than we feared.

    This wart on the ass of intelligent inquiry might make its money back in DVD sales, but at least it shows how duplicitous you have to be to get an anti-science film off the ground. Maybe that’s good enough for now.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    Tickets are 4 bucks here.

    Where the heck is “here”? Are you living in 1982? :)

  • TXatheist

    Rumor has it that Dawkins admits to Design in the movie? Any confirmation or clarification on that?

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Without being for or against the film, may I ask one question?

    Why, everytime someone comes out with an artistic (or otherwise) expression of their thoughts, do we have to choose sides?

    Are we just a bunch of sheep? Speaking of flock of dodos…(I still haven’t seen that movie recorded on my DVR)… we all flock from one place to another, one fad to another, one person’s opinion to another… as if we have no thoughts of our own. This is more true of the Christians that I know, but I also find the same behavior in others as well, including myself at times. (but I’m getting better) :)

    I received a flyer promoting the film from a Christian friend. It went directly into the next garbage can I walked by, the same place I would throw a flyer promoting the Golden Compass or a fear campaign flyer promoting abstinence, as well as a flyer advertising the Pope’s visit to DC or even an anti-religion flyer.

    The point is… there is no point… just an observation and curiosity…

    I’ll have to view the movie “Expelled” myself in its entirety to see what it’s about.

  • cautious

    Rumor has it that Dawkins admits to Design in the movie? Any confirmation or clarification on that?

    TX, from what I understand of the movie (having sadly not watched it :( ), Dawkins is asked to provide an example in which Intelligent Design could have happened. He then basically tells a tale of panspermia, in which an alien intelligence would bring life to earth.

    The film basically plays it off as a joke, even though (at least in our atheist eyes) there’s very little difference between the idea that an intelligent god made life on Earth vs. the idea that intelligent aliens made life on Earth.

    Also intriguing is how the film frames one of the ideas for how abiogenesis could have occurred: early pre-biotic organic molecules could have used clay to ‘scaffold’ themselves. Check out the section of Clay theory on the wikipedia page on abiogenesis for a really quick synopsis of the idea.

    The movie frames it a joke. Their exact words are something along the lines of “scientists say life began on the backs of crystals.” The really awesome thing for science education in this country is that if you google “backs of crystals” you find hundreds of reviews of Expelled already making fun of abiogenesis, using that phrase.

    Flock of Dodos = warning shot to scientists to learn how to speak gooder.

    Expelled = proof to scientists that they haven’t learned jack.

  • cipher

    You know, something occurred to me. He called his show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money” – except that it wasn’t really his money.

    Apparently, he lied about that as well.

  • interested

    I find it interesting that people have such harsh words to say about a movie that’s supposed to be irrational and unsupported. If it’s so stupid then why bother? Why not recommend the movie to millions to expose its obvious irrationality? On the other hand, if it genuinely poses debatable questions, I think its success can be found in the reaction from the opposite side of the belief spectrum. The more atheists and evolutionists who complain about it then the more likely it’s causing people to think about what really happened in the evolution or creation of the world.

  • Siamang

    What I find fascinating is the influx of posters on this topic that have never posted here before… all of them claiming to be impartial and open and stuff.

    We know what you’re doing here. It’s kind of obvious, movie promoters.

  • Andrew

    Where the heck is “here”? Are you living in 1982?

    Haha. No I live in College Station, TX, tickets used to be 8 bucks, but an actual independent movie theatre (way nicer than the corporate one too) opened up down the highway from our one theatre. And then battle ensued. The price ware stopped at $5 for showings after 6 pm ($4 for senior, children, and students) and $3.5 for early showings. But soda, candy, beer, all that stuff still costs a whole lot. I usually spend close to $15 for myself.

    Oh and Linda… you are sooo deep (sarcasm). Celebrating 4-20 were we?

  • Andrew

    We know what you’re doing here. It’s kind of obvious, movie promoters.

    Haha. Speaking for myself, I don’t like the movie. Listen Intelligent Design is not considered science because it is non-falsifiable. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, ID is obviously not. So why would any scientist spend any time literally researching or experimenting with nothing? They wouldn’t. That is why ID is not taken seriously in the scientific community.

    Now the people who make this movie are scientifically ignorant and self-deluded, self-righteous Christians who perceive an organized movement to keep God out of science. So they made a movie that was so weak on actual arguments, that they resorted to edited quotes obtained by deceitful interviews and of course… Nazis.

    Who wants to see that? Not even Christians apparently. My roommate, a strong Christian, scoffs at the people who made this movie. He doesn’t understand why supposed Christians feel the need to validate (even falsely) their believes by trying to make it into provable fact. First, the square peg doesn’t fit in the round hole. Second, he thinks these people don’t understand faith. Now, I can agree with my roommate if I look at it from his point of view. But I honestly think all the differences and schisms within Christianity and its Dogma are equally silly.

  • theist CA

    We know what you’re doing here. It’s kind of obvious, movie promoters.

    I have never posted here before, and I don’t claim to be impartial. I can’t speak for others, but If I wanted to promote the movie I would do it at my conservative Christian church… If I post at an atheist blog, it is probably to discuss the movie and influence people who I consider wrong on a very important topic. This is obvious since you may not go see the movie, but you do check comments on a post like this.

    Now the people who make this movie are scientifically ignorant and self-deluded, self-righteous Christians

    Ben Stein is not a Christian. David Berlinski, the main theist interviewed, is not a Christian. The others may be, I don’t know about them all. The ID people in the movie are probably not scientifically ignorant, since they have doctorates in their fields, sometimes two. The same goes for the atheists interviewed… I don’t mind saying that. They disagree on this issue, but they are hardly ignorant. Self-delusion would only be possible if they were wrong and not ignorant. Self-righteous, that’s possible for anyone, but the atheists in the movie come off looking far more arrogant than the ID advocates.

  • Claire

    interested said,

    If it’s so stupid then why bother? Why not recommend the movie to millions to expose its obvious irrationality?

    Somebody certainly has the wrong end of this stick… If the people who see it only hear one side (and they will), how are they supposed to realize they are being lied to and manipulated? Not all, or even most, of them will have the educational background to realize it on their own. No one here is saying people shouldn’t see it, merely regretting the fact that those who do see it will mostly swallow it hook, line, and sinker, since it’s telling them what they want to hear.

    On the other hand, if it genuinely poses debatable questions, I think its success can be found in the reaction from the opposite side of the belief spectrum.

    We ARE the other side of this controversy they are attempting to manufacture, and that is why we need to speak up, so that those few who see it who do actually have questions will know that they aren’t alone, and there is another side. So, no, we are not reacting because we are worried people will ask questions, we are speaking up so that they CAN.

    The more atheists and evolutionists who complain about it then the more likely it’s causing people to think about what really happened in the evolution or creation of the world.

    Seriously, we can only hope.

    Not holding my breath, though.

  • cautious

    Hi theist CA, welcome to the club.

    The ID people in the movie are probably not scientifically ignorant, since they have doctorates in their fields, sometimes two.

    As science class after science class has beat into my skull, just because people spent a good deal of time working on a PhD and obtained one doesn’t make them any less capable of being wrong about matters of science that they don’t understand.

    Three of the people interviewed in Expelled are Guillermo Gonzales, Richard Sternberg, and Caroline Crocker. The first got a PhD in astronomy, the second got PhDs in molecular evolution and theoretical biology, the third got a PhD in immunopharmacology.

    Doc Crocker taught a lecture at two different schools (George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College) that was highly critical of evolution to the point of being ridiculous. Some of the slides from her powerpoint lecture have been put online for the world to see. They display an amazing amount of scientific ignorance. Picture teaching a college-level history class and saying that Abe Lincoln was president during WWII. And then being proud of doing so.

    Doc Sternberg made …a really bad decision to run a paper that had very little scientific merit. He was one of the reviewers of the paper. And he won’t reveal who the other three people who reviewed the paper are. Those bad decisions by themselves don’t show scientific ignorance, but, well, let’s look at the effects of his decision.

    Firstly, he published that article in the last issue of a journal that he was the editor for. Somewhat convenient. Afterwards, he has basically played both sides of the ID v. science debate against each other for the last ~four years; on one hand, NPR once “said Sternberg himself believes intelligent design is ‘fatally flawed.”, on the other hand, he serves as a fellow for the ID group ISCID and signed the Discovery Institute’s Dissent from Darwinism petition. He might not be scientifically ignorant but he made a bad decision and his ego has been profiting from it for a while now.

    Doc Gonzalez is also a fellow of ISCID. And, like the other two scientists mentioned above, signed the Dissent from Darwinism petition. From what I’ve read, when he has talked about biology, he has sounded ignorant; but that’s understandable, it’s not what he studied. Much more disturbing is the deterioration in his publications over time. Heck, I published more in 2007 and I’m years away from being a potential professor.

    What unites all three of these scientists (besides their dissent from Darwinism) is that they have had disappointments in their careers…and instead of taking any personal responsibility for these events, they have decided to blame a scientific cabal that doesn’t exist. I think their sin is not scientific ignorance, but rather inflated egos and an over-enthusiasm for pretending to be a martyr.

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    cipher said:

    You know, something occurred to me. He called his show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money” – except that it wasn’t really his money.

    Apparently, he lied about that as well.

    Actually, if you read the fine print in the credits, it explained that any portion of the money available per show that was not won, was added to Mr. Stein’s salary. So technically, it could be argued that it was Ben Stein’s money.

    Wow…that is sooo off topic.

  • Siamang

    I expect that the 3.1 million dollar estimate will be revised downward when we get the sunday actuals on Monday evening.

    As I predicted in the other thread, the estimate did drop once we got actuals.

    2.9 million three-day total. 1.2 Friday dropped to .99 Saturday to .77 on sunday.

    Dropping like a stone. This turkey won’t break 4.5 million.

    More important than the money this movie isn’t making is how many people aren’t going out of their way to see it.

  • theist CA

    cautious, I appreciate your response. I don’t know where to begin. First, I did not expect to join an atheist club today. (*light sob*) So, thank you from the bottom of my heart… Second, congrats on your published material.

    Third, there may be a misunderstanding. I am not going to defend anyone simply because he has a certain degree. Yes, a PhD can err. My claim is that in one’s particular field of training it is highly unlikely he would be “ignorant.” I have worked with many PhD’s (from many fields) who sadly know nothing about some other areas. It won’t take much to convince me that physicist A is ignorant of biology, but if so I’m not going to say that physicist A is ignorant of science, which implies both biology and physics. I think this is more what Andrew has done and what you hesitate to do.

    Fourth, although you mention a lot of material, I will not take issue with most of it because 1) this post would get too long, 2) I trust it is essentially accurate, and 3) it amounts to somewhat of a red herring. I say this because concerning ignorance of one’s field (the topic of my comment to which you replied), you agree in the end that descriptions like Andrew’s inaccurately describe such people.

    I think we can agree that whether or not the reason Sternberg published the article was because it advocated intelligent design, that was the reason he was fired. And that is really what he has contended. I don’t know him, but I don’t have a problem saying that a person is sinful. I believe we all are, in many ways. So to me, whether he is a martyr with a big ego has little relevance to whether he was unjustly fired. The fact that the other side of the story is hard to get does not help things. I will say that if he didn’t divulge the names of the other reviewers, it may well be that he doesn’t want also to put them in a difficult position.

  • theist CA

    Back to the topic of this post, it needs to be pointed out that compared to other documentaries, the film did quite well. It is the third highest opening weekend ever for a documentary. Maybe that wasn’t what Ben was hoping for, who knows. Regardless, given that most people don’t go to the movies to see documentaries, and that most theists I know aren’t very interested in this topic in the first place, it is clear that it did relatively well.

    Dropping like a stone. This turkey won’t break 4.5 million.

    The average quotient of lifetime/opening weekend gross for those top 100 documentaries is 74 with a standard deviation of 100. This means that 1) 4.5 million is almost certainly too low of an estimate, and 2) no one can make such a prediction with any degree of confidence.

  • Siamang

    Sternberg wasn’t fired. He’s still at the Smithsonian.

    He did post-doctoral work between 1999 and 2001 at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) at the Smithsonian Institution and in 2004 he was given a 3 year appointment as an unpaid research associate.[3] On 15 November 2006, he received a further three year appointment as an unpaid ‘research collaborator’ at the NMNH.[4]

  • Siamang

    Back to the topic of this post, it needs to be pointed out that compared to other documentaries, the film did quite well. It is the third highest opening weekend ever for a documentary.

    The reason is that they didn’t open it like a documentary. They did what we call in the business “buying an opening weekend”. Unlike all the other docus in the top ten, they opened wide. They spent big money on expensive TV ads. They shot their wad in the opening weekend. In two weeks they lose their theaters to Indiana Jones. Art houses normally play docus. This movie is poison to their regular arty-liberal crowds. The multiplex doesn’t want this turkey, and the art houses wouldn’t touch this thing with a ten-foot pole. Docus play in the big cities… not heartland america. The odds are stacked against this film. Expect close to an 80% drop in BO next weekend.

    The average ratio of lifetime/opening weekend gross for those top 100 documentaries is 74 with a standard deviation of 100

    .

    You can’t look at it like a docu. They didn’t do a tiered release platform. They didn’t look to build word of mouth. They were critically panned as one of the worst motion pictures of all time. This film will have no legs. They hid the film from critics, opened wide, and bought their opening weekend. We aren’t looking at Roger and Me here, we’re looking at Catwoman. The Friday to Saturday drop tells the tale.

    2) no one can make such a prediction with any degree of confidence.

    Barring a miracle, of course, I predict at least a 70% drop next weekend.

  • cipher

    Actually, if you read the fine print in the credits, it explained that any portion of the money available per show that was not won, was added to Mr. Stein’s salary. So technically, it could be argued that it was Ben Stein’s money.

    Wow…that is sooo off topic.

    It was a joke. Apparently, not a good one.

    But how in the world is it off-topic? We’ve been talking about Stein’s duplicity since this thing started.

  • cautious

    theist CA said:

    It won’t take much to convince me that physicist A is ignorant of biology, but if so I’m not going to say that physicist A is ignorant of science, which implies both biology and physics. I think this is more what Andrew has done and what you hesitate to do.

    I do hesitate to say that ID proponents are ignorant of science because …they want to use scientific language and scientific rigor to promote an intensely anti-scientific viewpoint. So they’re not really ignorant of science, they’re just either consciously or unconsciously opponents of science.

    I think we can agree that whether or not the reason Sternberg published the article was because it advocated intelligent design, that was the reason he was fired.

    As siamang said, he wasn’t fired. I briefly discussed (ok, maybe not so briefly) those three people because the Expelled film brings them up as people who have faced academic bias. But all three of them are currently employed in research or academia (although Gonzales does have to find a new job in 2009 because he didn’t get tenure).

    I will say that if he didn’t divulge the names of the other reviewers, it may well be that he doesn’t want also to put them in a difficult position.

    This is one of the few redeeming parts of the story for him; these three people, for all we know, might have raised huge objections to the paper and not thought it was worth publication. Or, they may be, like the author of the troublesome paper, young-earth creationists. But they want to be anonymous and so it’s good that he’s not willing to involve them.

    The fact that the other side of the story is hard to get does not help things.

    Which is the disturbing thing about all of this. He makes the claim that the Smithsonian knuckled down on him and he was, among other grievances, “forced to give up [his] master key”. The government report about Sternberg mentions the key issue repeatedly. The Smithsonian says that he was never denied keys, and that his keys were “taken away” when the museum switched to ID badges and magnetic keycards.

    He obviously feels that his rights and freedoms were trampled on. It’s just difficult for those of us who aren’t him to objectively see how much of this is his perception and how much is reality. Saying as how he is making no issue with a movie that (for all intents and purposes) says he was fired, when he was not, my skepticism alarm is going off, big time, telling me that a lot of this might be his perception.

  • Andrew

    Ben Stein is not a Christian. David Berlinski, the main theist interviewed, is not a Christian. The others may be, I don’t know about them all.

    Did I say the people in the movie or the people who made the movie? There is a valid distinction. The people who made the move are Christians. And they don’t have doctorates (as if that is a requirement for an understanding of modern science and its processes).

    Second, their is no research in ID. Sure the Discovery Institute publishes their own papers now and again to cover their real agendas. And these papers are quickly diced to pieces by their “peers”.

    …you agree in the end that descriptions like Andrew’s inaccurately describe such people.

    Once again. Not the people I was referring to.

    The people who produced this movie. The people who came up with the idea, which I can understand, thought they were really going to do something great for their God. But here we are with a movie that does nothing for ID. It just slams legitimate scientists for their dismissal of something that is non-scientific. I explained why this is above in a single paragraph.

    I do hesitate to say that ID proponents are ignorant of science because …they want to use scientific language and scientific rigor to promote an intensely anti-scientific viewpoint. So they’re not really ignorant of science, they’re just either consciously or unconsciously opponents of science.

    So you can expect a bit of arrogance and frustration from those scientists who have to deal with a public who listens to these misguided (or maybe purposefully guided) people and doesn’t understand the simple fact that ID is non-scientific.

    The movie, since it had no possible way to make a scientific argument, ended up trying to tie atheism to science because atheism is still a bad word in America. That is their whole argument. But the more accurate argument would have been secularism seeing as a supernatural being is unnatural and outside the realm of science which can only deal with reality… excuse me, the natural universe.

  • Darryl

    The Christians behind this kind of thing are only hastening their self-inflicted discrediting. The more they push against science and reason, the more ridiculous they seem. If and when they have succeeded in slowing progress in some area (like Bush’s anti-stem cell research decision) they have only hurt our country–the rest of the advanced world is more than happy to take the lead in these areas. What I find humorous is how the Christo-Conservatives are caught in a dilemma between their theism and the new markets that are foregone because of it.

  • Phil

    To me, the most interesting development with “Expelled” is the rapid expansion of its comprehensive Wikipedia entry. All of the major falsehoods of the film — from the Darwin quote cherry-picking to the non-firing of Richard Steinberg — are well-covered there.

    I don’t tell people to avoid this film. Instead, I tell them to skim over the Wikipedia page first and then decide if they want to see the film. Even if they decide to view the film, they should be far more skeptical during their viewing (and may well consult the Wiki again after viewing).

    As far as your box office, you’re exactly right. Any decline from Friday to Saturday is a tell-tale that it does not have staying power. That happens to less than 10% of the movies that premiere at more than 1,000 theaters. Distribution contracts for movies typically require a run of 2 weeks, but it’s a good bet that theater managers were already planning to pull this puppy when looking at the numbers for the first three days.

    Second-week estimates are in: the movie is predicted to have a 53.6% dropoff from last weekend — the largest dropoff of any of last week’s top 10; it is predicted to be in 13th place. But those estimates may actually have been optimistic: the movie actually had a 62.8% dropoff from last Friday. Unless Friday->Saturday dropoff is less this week, performance will be even worse than predicted. We shall see.

    Final theater counts will be out on Thursday on boxofficemojo.com. I predict that it’ll lose at least 1/3 of its screens and possibly more than half.

    I do wish that Yoko Ono had waited until after the second Monday of the run to announce her lawsuit. That gave the move a tiny bit of publicity for its second weekend. It’s my guess that the producers included the clip from “Imagine” precisely to draw a lawsuit. If the filmmakers had simply wanted to include his lyrics, they could have read them and/or displayed them on the screen. IMHO, playing the music crossed the legal threshold for IP theft. Commercial speech is not the same as free speech — even if odds are remote that your film will make any money.

  • Siamang

    Interesting, Phil.

    The Wikipedia page is excellent. I saw the movie, and the Darwin Quote mine stood out…. GEE, a creationist TWISTING something Darwin said to make it seem like he supported something evil, when in fact he was saying the exact opposite?

    NAWWW…. couldn’t be!!!! Creationists are highly moral and intellectually honest individuals who would NEVER be so mendacious!

  • cautious

    A friend of mine who is a fellow evo bio grad student saw most of the film. For free. I…won’t go into the legalities of the situation. Quick two sentence description?

    “At best, it’s boring. At worst, it’s slander.”

  • Phil

    Back to the topic of this post, it needs to be pointed out that compared to other documentaries, the film did quite well.

    It’s insufficient to compare the BO of this documentary to other documentaries. These guys did several things that are atypical of documentary production:

    1. Taking their film on a nationwide tour.
    2. Buying Google Ads to send people to the movie’s website (I’m so curious! I click on these every time I see ‘em. ;-)
    3. Paying churches/schools who send groups to the movie (see notes in the Wikipedia entry).
    4. Hiring 4 different public relations firms to promote this movie. (see Wikipedia notes).

    Some documentaries may have done one or 2 of those, but I’m guessing that no documentary has ever done all four.

    We also have no idea how much money was spent on straight-out advertising for the film.

    It is the third highest opening weekend ever for a documentary.

    See above. It would be far more meaningful to normalize the BO by how much money was spent on pre-release marketing of each film. Unfortunately, that’s only possible if the producers freely and openly disclose those numbers.

    Regardless, given that most people don’t go to the movies to see documentaries, and that most theists I know aren’t very interested in this topic in the first place, it is clear that it did relatively well.

    Relatively well compared to what? If these guys spent 5x on their pre-release marketing than any of the other films on the list, it’s a far less impressive number.

    There’s a completely separate question: will they make any money? Rocky Mountain Pictures is a tiny operation — much smaller than a 20th Century Fox or Universal (or even these theater chains themselves). RMP doesn’t have any Harry Potter films in the pipeline to help with the negotiations; this is a one-shot deal. In order to push an unknown quantity out to that many theaters, I’m guessing that RMP had to give the theaters a sweetheart cut of the BO.

    The average quotient of lifetime/opening weekend gross for those top 100 documentaries is 74 with a standard deviation of 100. This means that 1) 4.5 million is almost certainly too low of an estimate, and 2) no one can make such a prediction with any degree of confidence.

    You are absolutely right on this. None of the professional BO analysts will ever post a prediction until they see what the dropoff is in the 2nd weekend. That was neat for you to crunch those numbers.

    After seeing the first weekend’s BO, I took a SWAG and estimated the film would end up with 10M domestic gross and placed an upper limit at 12M. I think that was pretty good, and I’ll stick by it.

    The actuals for the weekend come out on Monday evening. Why don’t you plot an estimate for this film’s total gross then?

    The only number you won’t have is how many theaters will still have the film for the third weekend; that number comes out on Thursday. You could run your numbers one more time then.

  • JB

    Wow, I went in expecting to find things I could pick apart. I was floored. I think my mind is completely changed. My long-held faith in evolution is completely rocked.

    Please see this movie and decide for yourself.

  • Siamang

    JB, I saw the movie. I’m amazed that it was able to change anyone’s mind about evolution, since it contained absolutely no science at all.

    What part of the film do you think rocked your long-held “faith in evolution”?

    Why don’t I believe you, that you HAD “faith in evolution” before you saw this film?

  • Siamang

    I wrote:

    Dropping like a stone. This turkey won’t break 4.5 million.

    Barring a miracle, of course, I predict at least a 70% drop next weekend.

    It’s a MIRACLE!!!!

    only a 53% drop off, and the CUM total is now up to 5.2 million!

    I was wrong! They might make their money back!

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    My long-held faith in evolution is completely rocked.

    . . and it was much better than Cats . . .

  • James_g_vm

    We can expect the DVD soon, it is standard practice in the low-budget film industry to launch the DVD on the coat tails of the theatrical promotion to maximize the marketing spend. I expect there will be an additional push to evangelicals for the DVD. Margins are higher in home video so this project may indeed come out in the black. Unfortunately in my opinion.

  • TXatheist

    Siamang, I want to see it but won’t pay for it. What would you say was the most interesting part of the movie….in your opinion?

  • cipher

    Siamang,

    In the other thread about Expelled, you said,

    I mean, here was a stupid cartoon, not 30 seconds in length, claiming to illustrate a fundamental problem with evolutionary biology. In order for this cartoon to actually disprove a scientific claim, the scientists in the world must be PHENOMENALLY stupid. I mean, really, if you could punch a fatal hole in evolutionary theory with a cartoon, and yet no actual scientist at Harvard or Yale or MIT, or Princeton or Oxford or Cambridge has figured it out… but OH YEAH, these bozos with their cheap cartoon figured it out.

    This reminds me of something that’s been bothering me for some time. I live in Boston. As you probably know, it’s a big college town. For years, evangelicalism has been growing on campuses here (as I understand is the case everywhere, at least in the US). At Harvard and MIT, we supposedly have some of the most brilliant young minds this civilization has produced. If someone were to walk in on a group of science majors (which is pretty much everyone at MIT) and tell them, “Guys, we’ve just run some experiments. Relativity, quantum mechanics – they’re all wrong. Turns out Newton was right all along.”, they’d say, “You’d better show us some hard evidence if you’re going to make a statement like that.” However, someone tells them, “Two thousand years ago, God became a human being and let someone nail him to a tree, so now, if you believe it, he doesn’t have to roast you alive for all of eternity”, and they just say, “Okay.” The double standard is unbelievable; it just makes me crazy. These kids are supposed to be the best we have, intellectually – and they just roll over for it.

  • Siamang

    Siamang, I want to see it but won’t pay for it. What would you say was the most interesting part of the movie….in your opinion?

    I have to say that I did get a little kick out of hearing Richard Dawkins read his passage about God in a movie theater that I expect was peopled with 12 Christians and me.

    You know the one:

    The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

    It was a guilty pleasure, to be sure. But after sitting through the blood libel of Stein blaming science for the murder of six-million Jews, I took what pleasure I could.

  • Siamang

    a movie theater that I expect was peopled with 12 Christians and me.

    I like the numerology of that. Now, who do I represent, Jesus, or Judas?

  • Siamang

    Wow, I went in expecting to find things I could pick apart. I was floored. I think my mind is completely changed. My long-held faith in evolution is completely rocked.

    Please see this movie and decide for yourself.

    JB, I saw the movie. If you’re still here, let’s have a discussion about it.

  • Phil

    Wow, I went in expecting to find things I could pick apart. I was floored. I think my mind is completely changed. My long-held faith in evolution is completely rocked.

    If you want to see things picked apart, go look at the Wikipedia entry for

    Expelled No Intelligence Allowed

    You’ll see essentially every single claim of the “expelled” sliced and diced in that discussion.

    While you’re there, check out the manipulation of Darwin’s quote made by the filmmakers. You’ll see both Darwin’s real words and the words that were used in the “quotation” in the movie.

  • Phil

    It’s a MIRACLE!!!!
    only a 53% drop off, and the CUM total is now up to 5.2 million!

    Hardly a miracle. I’m guessing you’ve never ever made BO estimates before. You really need to have a 2nd week’s worth of data before doing that.

    I was wrong! They might make their money back!

    Unless these guys revealed their marketing budget, it’s almost impossible to tell.

    The rule-of-thumb cut between distributors and theaters is 50/50, although I don’ think it’ll apply in this case. Rocky Mountain Pictures is a tiny operation; it’s very difficult for them to get anything near the rate that a Universal or Paramount would get for a movie.

    I’m guessing that the producers said, “To hell with the BO take!” Or maybe something like that….

    They pretty clearly had their priorities on the public numbers and don’t really care if they take a bath on the [private] bottom line.

    Never mind the pending lawsuits about IP theft…

  • Phil

    If you look at the theater counts for this weekend, you’ll see that “Expelled” lost over 1/3 of its theaters.

    The total is actually worse than that! Locally, 2 of the 7 theaters still showing the film have multiple movies on the same screen. On the Cinemark theater, it’s a double feature with “Deception” (imagine that!); “Expelled” doesn’t have a 7pm show!

    Expect to see a substantially reduced BO form those remaining theaters this weekend.

  • Culle. f.

    I believe in God and know that Jesus is our Savior just as I know I am typing on this forum. I appreciate the freedom we have in being able to believe as we wish, in fact, this freedom is a major part of the Plan of Salvation for mankind.

    Although we disagree, we are on this earth for the same reason. I thank you for allowing me to post and for the opposition you raise.

    Christians and Athiest alike are human and thus susceptible to human error; left to the thinking ways of the natural man. This is why some Christians and Athiest do things that are not right. But it isn’t up to us to judge; instead we should seek to serve each other regardless of different beliefs.


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