To avoid a constant stream of commentary on the movie Expelled, I’ve been ignoring it for the past few weeks after the first couple of posts that I did on it. Mostly, I was keeping my eye on the numbers to see if there would be a sudden resurgence in popularity for the pile of dreck that is Ben Stein’s masterpiece. I’m happy to say that at this point, there has not been: as per BoxOfficeMojo’s numbers, 25 days in to its run Expelled has made a grand total of about $7.3 million dollars. It is currently showing on 402 theatres, down from 1,052 at its height, and earning an average of $97 dollars per screen per day at this point (about $35-40,000 per day).
The slide into obscurity is not surprising, since all movies decline with time. But, I had to wait for it to run its course before I could nail the final nails into the coffin of this monstrosity with certainty. Creationist / “Intelligent Design” proponents may claim that it’s a victory:
Now., as to success, there’s no way Expelled’s going to be up there with Chain Saw #666; but that’s not a realistic assessment anyway. For a realistic assessment, we must compare Expelled with other documentaries about a public issue that you would need to think about.
Expelled is currently ranked #12 of all documentaries and #5 of all political documentaries. (May 9, 2008, 1:39 pm EST)
As of Wednesday, May 7 (20 days of showings), Expelled had made $6,827,768, so I expect the makers will pull down a profit.
Overall, the film reminds me of The Passion of the Christ and Bella: Panned by legacy critics, loved by the box office, both films paid the rent just fine. Which means that the makers can make other films
But as I explained in my previous analysis of this, it is unlikely that Expelled made a profit, nor did it meet the (absurd) goals of its producers. Since the production budget has not been released, we may never know how badly they hemorrhaged money, but any reasonable look at the probable amount of money spent suggests that the answer is: “like a hemophiliac in a knife fight”.
Comparing rankings of documentaries is a bit misleading as well. For the number of theaters that Expelled opened in, it should have done much better than it did. No other political documentary opened on anywhere near the number of theaters that Expelled did (with the exception of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko), but comparing it to #4, Bowling for Columbine (which did $24 million in business while opening in only a quarter of the theaters that Expelled did) shows how out of step Expelled was. The situation is even worse in the general documentary category, where Expelled sticks out like a sore (and gangrenous) thumb. Given the number of theaters it opened in and the lavish amount of money spent promoting this turd, its showing is downright dismal.
And really, comparing it to The Passion of the Christ? A film that did $370 million lifetime gross? Yeah, those two are clearly peas in a pod.