August 5, 2005

‘Penguins’ film poised to be No. 2 documentary

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Warner Independent Pictures on
Friday more than doubled the number of theaters playing its
nature movie "March of the Penguins," boosting the film's
chance at becoming the No. 2 documentary of all time at
domestic box offices.

The move puts the Antarctic adventure "Penguins" in 1,867
theaters in the United States and Canada this weekend, up from
778 one week ago, according to, which
monitors box-office earnings.

The film, which follows a pack of Emperor Penguins during
an arduous mating season, had grossed $18.4 million through
Wednesday and was poised to surpass the $21.6 million for
Michael Moore's anti-gun documentary "Bowling For Columbine."

Moore's 2004 anti-Bush film "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the No. 1
box-office documentary with $119 million. "Bowling for
Columbine" ranks No. 2, excluding box-office figures for
large-format Imax films and concert movies.

Brandon Gray, president of, said
"Penguins" probably would pass "Bowling for Columbine" by

Gray said it is unusual for a documentary to play in more
than 1,800 theaters. Generally, nature films like "Penguins"
screen exclusively in art-house theaters, of which there are

But "Penguins" has crossed over to mainstream audiences to
become one of the summer's big hits for independent film fans
and a bright spot amid lackluster performance for Hollywood's
big-budget movies.

In international markets, "Penguins" has performed equally
well, bringing in another $15.5 million for a worldwide total
to date of $33.9 million, according to

"Bowling for Columbine" has a worldwide box-office tally of
$58 million, and "Fahrenheit" has brought in $222 million in
global ticket sales.

"March of the Penguins," directed by French filmmaker Luc
Jacquet, charts the course of the emperor penguins as they
leave their summer feeding ground, trek across the frozen
continent to their winter breeding grounds and mate.

Jacquet and his crew filmed the penguins through the season
as they protected their eggs, watched newborns hatch and kept
them from hungry predators.

Warner Independent is part of the giant Warner Bros.
studio, which is a unit of Time Warner Inc .