Worldwide lifetime gross: US$7,457,710
Opened: April, 2003
HBO, VP of original doc programming
I don’t think anyone had really seen a doc like it before. Apparently, at some screenings it became like Rocky Horror Picture Show where people in the audience were shouting out how to spell the words, and spelling along.
ThinkFilm, head of U.S. distribution
There was an element of surprise [with the] word-of-mouth. The recommendations were doubly enthusiastic and persuasive because it wasn’t just, ‘You gotta see it.’ It was, ‘Like you, I didn’t think I would like it, but I loved it. You gotta see it.’ That’s somehow more potent because you’re identifying the reluctance and then nullifying it.
Mad Hot Ballroom
Worldwide lifetime gross:US$5,960,222
Opened: May, 2005
Perhaps there’s a residual effect, where there’s a great volume of audience who [might consider] Mad Hot because of their experience with Spellbound… people are aware of how much fun it could be to see a film about competing. If you get too many of those, it starts to become a cliché, and that can work against you – too many copycats.
I don’t think Mad Hot is working because it’s another film about kids – it’s working because it’s entertaining, there’s good word-of-mouth, and it makes audiences feel good. Kids doing ballroom dancing is a particular kind of spectacle.
Worldwide lifetime gross: US$32,257,753
Opened: April, 2003
Motion Picture Sound Editors, past president
The beauty of the birds carries the story with occasional voice-over and title cards. This enabled the soundtrack to be more creative, using nature’s background sounds along with the birds and wind.
Loews Theaters, director of sales
The film stood on its own without any cars blowing up – it was just nature. It was peaceful and quiet. Kids came into the theater kicking and screaming. When they came out, it was, ‘Wow, that was great.’
March of the Penguins
Worldwide lifetime gross: US$22,723,388
Opened: June, 2005
AMC Entertainment, VPcorp. communications
Fare like that would not traditionally be shown in a commercial theater like ours, but it played so well [in art houses] amc wanted to show it to our audiences; it’s a specialty movie with mainstream appeal. The film speaks to people about courage.
Warner Independent Pictures, EVP publicity
It has amazing word-of-mouth. [Audiences] come out of it loving it; it’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s sad, it’s an adventure. It’s about life and survival… the birds’ battles and struggles are symbolic of the way we see our lives.
Box office figures courtesy
Box Office Mojo.