Monday, July 9, 2007

"Sicko" Revenue Wanes at the Box Office--Why Didn't "Sicko" Resonate?

The Michael Moore movie about the U.S. health care system's problems, "Sicko," had incredible press before its debut. Moore appeared on the likes of Larry King, Leno, and Letterman, and about everywhere else in the days before its premier to hype his newest critical documentary.

Last week when the movie grossed only $4.5 million (putting it in 9th place) supporters pointed out that it only opened on 441 screens. The producer said he was just opening on a few screens while the movie "got its legs." Moore's last movie, "Fahrenheit 911," had opened on twice the screens--and grossed more than five times as much at $23.9 million in its first week on its way to a $100 million take.

Wait until next week they all said.

Well next week has come and gone.

On almost twice as many screens, "Sicko grossed only $3.6 million this past weekend--still putting it in 9th place and actually reporting less revenue than it did last weekend. Per screen, its revenue fell by about 50%.

So far, about a million people have seen it with a cumulative gross of $11.5 million. On the one-hand that's a lot of people.

But as a political statement, in a country with 300 million people, that's a pretty small audience. The antithesis of Moore, Bill O'Reilly, gets an audience multiples of that every weekday night.

After all the hype and with a U.S. health care system in such a fix, why hasn't "Sicko" resonated beyond what appears to be the already converted?

There could be any number of reasons. Perhaps its perceived as focusing on the negative with no viable alternative presented to its audience--people already know what the problem is and they want solutions.

More likely the 20-something folks, that go to movies more often than the rest of us, were more interested in seeing their childhood toys come to life in "Transformers" this weekend. Heavy policy isn't exactly what a lot of people think of for summertime entertainment.

"Sicko" is also a pitch for a single-payer government-run health care system.

Maybe someday America will get to that point. But I doubt it will be anytime soon.

During the past few years here in Washington, I have noted a marked focus on the part of many long-time single-payer supporters away from the policy they may see as the best--but also one they do not see as attainable anytime soon. They seem tired of holding-out for everything and getting nothing. The result has been a focus on "more realistic" incremental progress. "Families USA" is a case in point.

To be sure, there are those, like Moore, who haven't given up on getting us to a single-payer health care system in the U.S. But they look to be more marginalized at the moment than gaining traction. The presidential campaign of single-payer advocate Democrat Dennis Kucinich comes to mind.

"Sicko" is a political statement full of half truths taking pot shots at a system no one can defend.

I guess the people who buy movie tickets already knew that and just didn't think it was worth ten bucks.

July 16 Update: "Sicko" continues to wane. The weekend of July 13-15 Sicko grossed only $2.6 million in 756 theaters for a screen average of $3,500--the lowest of the three weeks. It has a three week gross of $15.8 million--66% of "Fahrenheit 911's" first weekend.

July 23 Update: Weekend gross of $1.9 million for 11th place with $1,701 per theater. Cumulative gross still below "F-911" first weekend at $19.4 million.

Watch the Wolf Blitzer interview with Michael Moore as Moore goes after CNN for trashing his movie.

Earlier post: A Review of the Movie "Sicko"--Michael Moore Blew It!
Avoid having to check back. Subscribe to Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review and receive an email each time we post.

Blog Archive