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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Moore film breaks debut records
Michael Moore
Moore already holds the box office record for a documentary
Michael Moore's controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11 has become the first documentary to top the US box office chart in its opening weekend.

The film, which attacks President George Bush's policy on Iraq, took $21.8m (11.9m) in its first three days, according to studio estimates.

The film has attracted huge attention since it won the Palme d'Or award at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

British audiences will get to see the film after its UK release on 9 July.

Fahrenheit 9/11 has already beaten the box office record for a documentary, held by Moore's Bowling for Columbine.

Focusing on gun culture in the US, it took $21.6m (11.9m) during its run in 2002. It took a further $35m (19.2m) outside the US.

1. Fahrenheit 9/11
2. White Chicks
3. Dodgeball
4. The Terminal
5. The Notebook
The biggest competition Fahrenheit 9/11 faced at the box office over the weekend was from the comedy White Chicks, starring Shawn and Marlon Wayans.

The movie took $19.6m (10.7m) over the weekend period, putting it second in the box office chart.

Previous number one Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, dropped to third place, taking $18.5m (10.1m) .

Making up the top five were Tom Hanks' The Terminal, which earned $13.9m (7.6m), and the newly released The Notebook, which took $13m (7.1m).


Fahrenheit 9/11 has benefited from maximum publicity after Disney refused to allow its Miramax subsidiary to release the film because of its political content.

Michael Moore in Washington
Michael Moore's film has had maximum publicity
Miramax founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein decided to buy the rights back, and strike their own deal with Lions Gate Films and IFC.

"It always helps when there's a group out there that says, 'Don't go see this movie, it's bad for you'," IFC president Jonathan Sehring said.

Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which compiles box office statistics, compared the furore over Fahrenheit 9/11 to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which was at the centre of a storm after claims it was anti-Semitic.

"It's like how The Passion of the Christ redefined what a certain genre of movie could do at the box office, Fahrenheit 9/11 is doing the same thing," he said.

"This blows away any conceivable box office record for a documentary."


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