Inside Move: Solid sea legs for ‘Coral’

Imax pic rides wave to big B.O.

After scaling the box office summit for large-format films with “Everest,” MacGillivray Freeman Films has similarly elevated hopes for “Coral Reef Adventure.”

The documentary on imperiled South Pacific coral reefs has already cleared $18 million at 32 museum-based screens. It debuted in Los Angeles Oct. 3 for a 10-day run; plans call for going into as many as 180 playdates next year.

Gross, by far the biggest for any docu this year, nearly equals the $21 million “Bowling for Columbine” took in domestically during an 11-month run.

Director-producer Greg MacGillivray admits the $10 million “Coral Reef” project is a labor of love driven by the desire to draw attention to the loss of the reefs — particularly with the box office split a mere 15% for MacGillivray Freeman.

He projects “Reef” will eventually break even by topping $60 million and could go to $80 million — not nearly the $122 million heights that “Everest” climbed but impressive considering the softer attendance at museums after 9/11.

“It’s a huge risk, but you really can’t miss with the visuals of the South Pacific and the personalities of the divers,” MacGillivray asserts.

His next project, a docu on the Nile River and its impact on Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, will begin shooting next month.

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