After its second weekend of release, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” got a flurry of unflattering headlines from the right-leaning publications.
The Washington Times reported that it was met with a “cool reception, placing 15th at the box office,” while Western Journalism published a story, “New Al Gore Film Bombs at the Box Office.” The Washington Free Beacon and Fox News also noted the middling performance of the sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth.”
So was it such a disaster? Not really.
While “An Inconvenient Sequel” fell short of the take of the opening weekend of “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006, its total gross so far is $1.1 million, which is still a respectable and even solid number in the world of documentaries, said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “An Inconvenient Truth” grossed $24 million in its domestic box office, and Bock thinks that the sequel could end up grossing around $10 million, depending on how Paramount intends to release it over the next few weeks.
“For a documentary [$10 million] is huge,” Bock said. “Any documentary that hits $5 million is equivalent to $100 million” for a feature release. Although the documentary is performing at less than 50% of the original, Bock said, it still will probably rank among the strongest in that category this year.
In its most recent weekend, “Inconvenient Sequel” made just over $961,000 at the box office on 180 screens, for a per-screen average of $5,340. It grossed almost $125,000 in its opening weekend on four screens.
Bock noted that sequels overall have been performing well below the originals all summer, whether that be “An Inconvenient Sequel” or the latest “Transformers” or “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Paramount plans to expand the release to 556 screens this weekend.
Still, there has been some criticism. D.R. Tucker of Washington Monthly argued that Paramount should have gone with a wide release and capitalized on anti-Trump sentiment, in the same way that Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” became an unexpected hit in 2004.
Still, Gore and the filmmakers, Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen, have been on a publicity blitz for the movie, which may be as important in messaging about climate change as the movie itself.
The movie does delve into Trump’s election victory and his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, but it is much more about Gore’s journey to areas hit hardest by the effects of climate change and his efforts to help forge the worldwide agreement.
One of the opening scenes in the movie is an exchange that Gore has with Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), long a climate change skeptic, as have been a number of political figures and organizations on the right.
Documentaries have never been an easy sell at the box office, and Bock says that they face a more difficult landscape than they did in 2006. “There’s a lot of other documentaries out there, and a lot of those are free on Netflix and Amazon. Going to a theater to see one is even more rare that it was.”