On a Monday when Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Jason Segel's penis duked it out for biggest story at the weekend box office, another argument was taking place among indie followers who witnessed a different star performance altogether: Ben Stein, whose anti-Darwinist screed Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed finished in the week's ninth-place spot with $3.1 million. Its $2,997 per-screen average — no great shakes for most mainstream openers — is nevertheless more than double the $1,401 average of Morgan Spurlock's Where In the World is Osama Bin Laden? To hear at least one documentary observer tell it after the jump, love Stein or hate him, this is pretty big:
Previously, only March of the Penguins, the Jackass films and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko appeared on more than 1,000 screens at once. An Inconvenient Truth never played on more than 600 screens. ...
Distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures employed Motive Marketing, the same firm that targeted Christian audiences for The Passion of the Christ and the Narnia films, for outreach to the faith community. This likely blunted the force of the overwhelmingly negative critical reviews of the film, which may be the worst reviewed documentary of all time, a stat that some may write off to liberal bias, save that even the NY Post's Kyle Smith (who famously pans nearly every left-leaning doc) gives the film a mixed review[.]
Really, though, in the end we couldn't care less about critics, ideology and marketing, because it is to our perverse, rollicking pleasure that Ben Fucking Stein outdrew George Clooney over the weekend. This should usher in a new era of stardom for the conservative figure, whose next outing into the cultural wild, Expelled 2: Wetbacks Be Gone, will feature a border-trolling Stein quizzing illegal immigrants on all nature of trivia before sending losers back to the South in his patented new Mexipult™. Then watch Stein and company kill on 2,000 screens; everyone knows this kind of insanity sells itself.