Fahrenheit 9/11 had a record setting opening weekend for a documentary. Of course Spiderman 2 did nearly twice that ($40.5 million) yesterday alone which shows that for a documentary Fahrenheit 9/11is an amazing success, but for a summer movie it is on par with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (Opening weekend gross $23,774,850).
I sense a new meme coming, one that needs to be busted before it spreads. The opening weekend gross for Fahrenheit 9/11 is listed at Box Office Mojo on the all time list for opening weekends at number 187. If you look down to number 199 you’ll see the $23,019,618 for Return of the Jedi. So Fahrenheit 9/11‘s opening weekend was better than the third installment of the Star Wars series?
For one thing ticket prices were much lower 20 years ago and even the dollars generated can’t be equated to 2004 dollars. For the twenty year period from 1983 to 2003 (the last year inflation numbers are available) the inflation index is 1.847. That means that a items that cost $10 in 1983 would cost $18.47 in 2003. You can run the numbers here. Comparing 2004 dollars to 1983 dollars doesn’t factor in the fact that the two are not equal (due to inflation). Doing an apples to apples comparision gives you these numbers (approximate):
Return of the Jedi (1005 screens) Inflation Adjusted Opening Weekend Gross $42,517,234
Fahrenheit 9/11 (868 screens) Inflation Adjusted Opening Weekend Gross $23,920,637
Not exactly in the same ballpark…