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Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Expelled film: The box office and other important stuff

Many people were hoping that the Expelled documentary about the suppression of evidnce for intelligent design of the uiverse and life forms would tank at the box office. It seems to have stayed in the top ten, opening on many fewer screens than the films that ranked higher. Says Entertainment Weekly:

Also of note, Ben Stein's political/science documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (No. 9) earned $3.2 mil. That's a very respectable total for a documentary, although non-fiction fare rarely opens in 1,052 theaters, as this right-leaning movie did. It's also, as you'll no doubt read elsewhere, substantially smaller than the $23.9 mil that the left-leaning Fahrenheit 9/11 debuted with in 2004 — but I'm not sure that's a fair comparison given how Michael Moore's film was about a much more resonant topic, had broad mainstream buzz, and opened during the summer.

Nevertheless, Expelled performed much better than the weekend's other new current-affairs documentary, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? That movie, the second feature from Super Size Me's Morgan Spurlock, banked a mere $143,299 in 102 locations, for a terrible $1,405 average.

Here's Daily Box Office on the details.

One source, Darwinian Fundamentalism, notes,
The full weekend estimates for Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed are in, and these numbers indicate that it will end up doing 43% better than expectations. Before the weekend, I found 3 estimates which averaged $2.2 million. The indications are that it will end up at $3.153 million, which is 43% above estimates and a huge opening for a documentary.

Several important observations: while it ended up 9th overall, it ended up #5 in per screen average, and #3 in per screen average on Sunday. This is a very key number, because it means it was successful for theater owners, and they are likely to keep it around longer.

My own view is that Expelled's biggest enemy will be the people who are disappointed that it is not a holler for Jesus. I am hearing from some of them already (or would be if I hadn't turned the sound off).

Also, Vic Holtreman at Screen Rant offers a surprisingly sensible estimation of the critics' frothing over the Expelled documentary. He begins by observing that

Your opinion of the film will with almost complete certainty be predicted by your opinions on Darwinism vs Intelligent Design.

Yes, exactly. In consequence, most reviews are a waste of time. You should see the film yourself.

It all reminds me of the frantic campaign by Darwin fans to pull down the ratings of the critical Design of Life textbook supplement. It didn't work, but the effort they put into it was pretty impressive.

Also, David Klinghoffer comments on the link between Darwin and Hitler:
The Darwin-Hitler connection is no recent discovery. In her classic 1951 work The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt wrote: “Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws as the expression of the law of nature in man, is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of a natural development which does not necessarily stop with the present species of human being.”

The standard biographies of Hitler almost all point to the influence of Darwinism on their subject. In Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Alan Bullock writes: “The basis of Hitler’s political beliefs was a crude Darwinism.” What Hitler found objectionable about Christianity was its rejection of Darwin’s theory: “Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest.”

John Toland’s Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography says this of Hitler’s Second Book published in 1928: “An essential of Hitler’s conclusions in this book was the conviction drawn from Darwin that might makes right.”
For more on Hitler's "Second Book (Zweites Buch)", go here.

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