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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Penguins defy US box office slump
March of the Penguins
The film focuses on the love life of the Emperor Penguin
A documentary about penguins is racing up the US box office charts in defiance of sluggish ticket sales elsewhere.

This week March of the Penguins could surpass Oscar nominee Super Size Me to become the fourth highest grossing documentary in the US and Canada.

Currently only showing in 700 theatres, it could top Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine when screen numbers double next week to 1,400 theatres.

The film, by director Luc Jacquet, follows the penguins' mating season.

The French film is expected to top $12m (6.8m) in North America by the end of the week, according to domestic distributor Warner Independent Pictures.

"This is a breath of fresh air in terms of positive news on the box office front," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracking company Exhibitor Relations.

"It also shows that people want something different. They want something unique."

New version

In the French version of the documentary, filmed by a four-man crew over 14 months in Antarctica, actors' voices speak for the penguins.

But it was felt by distributors that the style would not appeal to English-speaking audiences, and in the US version the voices have been replaced by narrator Morgan Freeman.

"What really works is when you get a movie that people are so adamant about that they force their friends to go, and that's what this is," said Mark Gill of Warner Independent Pictures. "You get one or two of those a year."

Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 became the first documentary to make more than $100m at the North American box office in 2004.

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