×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Free Solo’ Documentary Climbs Indie Box Office With Best Screen Average of 2018

Free Solo,” National Geographic’s exhilarating adventure documentary about the first free solo rock climb of Yosemite’s El Capitan, notched the best screen average of the year to date. It picked up $300,804 when it debuted this weekend on four screens, translating to $75,201 per location.

That distinction previously belonged to Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade.” The A24 coming-of-age film starring Elsie Fisher launched earlier this year in four theaters with $255,000 — or $63,071 per venue. Prior to that, Fox Searchlight’s “Isle of Dogs,” the Wes Anderson stop-motion animation film, topped records with $60,011 per screen after opening in March with $1.6 million from 27 locations.

If weekend estimates hold, “Free Solo” will also rank as the best theater average ever for a documentary, besting “An Inconvenient Truth.” Al Gore’s global warming doc pocketed $70,333 per screen when it launched in four locations in 2006. It went on to earn $49 million worldwide.

Filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and photographer Jimmy Chin directed “Free Solo,” which follows free soloist climber Alex Honnold as he prepares to scale the 3,000 foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without a rope. It currently holds a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Popular on Variety

The movie comes on the heels of a number of successful docs finding their footing in theaters. “RBG,” centering on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as the Mr. Rogers feature “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and “Three Identical Strangers,” which follows three triplets separated at birth, were just a few documentaries to resonate with audiences and turn a profit at the box office over the past few months.

“In a year where audiences are recognizing the power of seeing docs on the big screen, it’s so gratifying to see ‘Free Solo’ embraced as the thrilling theatrical experience that it is,” National Geographic global networks CEO Courteney Monroe said.

More Film

  • Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    Film News Roundup: Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Lionsgate is developing graphic novel “Memetic” as a feature, the latest Laura Ziskin Prize is announced and Firelight Media creates a fund for nonfiction filmmakers of color at the mid-career mark. PROJECT LAUNCHES Lionsgate is in final negotiations for motion picture rights to the apocalyptic horror graphic novel “Memetic” for [...]

  • Sylvie's Love Review

    'Sylvie's Love': Film Review

    Sultry music swells as the camera swoons over a young couple in a tender nighttime embrace. The 1950s residential New York City street is carefully rain-slicked and lined with shiny classic cars: an obvious stage set. Gene Kelly might just have swung on that lamppost; Doris Day might lean out of an upstairs window to sigh [...]

  • Martin Scorsese Irishman BTS

    Martin Scorsese's Body of Work Extends Far Beyond Male-Centric Mafia Movies

    Actors sometimes complain about being typecast, but it’s a fact of life for anyone in entertainment. John Ford is usually labeled a director of Westerns, despite “The Grapes of Wrath” and  “Mister Roberts.” David Lean is known for his epics, but he also directed “Brief Encounter” and “Summertime.” Vincente Minnelli? The director of musicals, overlooking [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Will Oscar Campaigning Turn to Mudslinging?

    On March 5, 1963, Army Archerd wrote in Variety: “There’s been a not-so-subtle campaign pyramiding since Oscar nominations that Omar Sharif is an ex-Egyptian soldier who fought in the Israeli War. Forget it: Omar sez: ‘I never fought in any army.’” Archerd also denied the rumor that Sharif was Muslim. Two big takeaways: 1. Mudslinging [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Why Blake Lively Isn't Trying to Be the 'Female James Bond' in 'The Rhythm Section'

    “The Rhythm Section,” Reed Morano’s new espionage thriller about a female assassin who sets out to avenge her family’s untimely death, is not a female-led approximation of a “James Bond” film. Though Barbara Broccoli, the magnate producer whose family has been solely responsible for the franchise, is producing the movie, “The Rhythm Section” is decidedly not [...]

  • Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez. Kristen Anderson-Lopez,

    Kristen Anderson-Lopez Talks Responsibility, Representation in 'Frozen 2' and the Biz

    Gender parity isn’t an issue in Oscar-winning songwriting-composer Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s house, what with her longstanding collaboration with husband Bobby Lopez, but at the Oscars luncheon on Monday, it was a different story. “There were 13 female directors represented in the shorts and documentary fields,” Anderson-Lopez notes, adding, “but how do we get from there to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content