Looking through the trailers on Trailer Addict made me realize something I’ve never known before. Movie fans can find trailers and ads of all the latest action movies and comedies everywhere they look and documentaries are almost never mentioned but there are more documentary films made than any other genre. The documentary goes largely unnoticed and even the highest grossing documentaries don’t compete with the other movies but these are the 10 highest grossing documentaries of all-time.
10th Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Religulous
Total Gross: $13 Million
Religulous is an interesting idea but ultimately fails. Bill Maher searches out people of faith to debate and tries to debate that religion is ridiculous (hence the name religulous). Unfortunately Maher, who I think is actually pretty smart, clearly chooses to pick on small people that he knows won’t stand a chance in a debate against him. If Maher had challenged somebody that could actually match wits with him then it’d be more impressive.
9th Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Capitalism: A Love Story
Total Gross: $14 Million
Capitalism: A Love Story is the first of many documentaries by Michael Moore on this list. Moore’s 2009 documentary centers on the financial crisis that has faced America in the last few years. The documentary includes many portraits of people that are suffering due to the crisis.
8th Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Madonna: Truth or Dare
Total Gross: $15 Million
Thanks to Michael Moore’s success as a director of documentary movies most people that go to see a documentary because of a person see it because of the director. This is a rare example of a popular documentary that has a person as the subject. Madonna: Truth or Dare follows the superstar singer during her 1990 Blond Amibition Tour.
7th Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Oceans
Total Gross: $17 Million (so far)
Oceans is a documentary from Disneynature. Disney did a wonderful job of crafting a stunning exploration of the undersea world but there didn’t really seem to be a message behind the documentary other than, “Hey, look at all this cool stuff underwater!”
6th Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Bowling for Columbine
Total Gross: $21 Million
Bowling for Columbine was the documentary that put Michael Moore on the map and won an Academy Award for best documentary. Bowling for Columbine explored the reasons for violence in the United States, especially violence involving guns and specifically the shooting that took place at Columbine High School.
5th Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: An Inconvenient Truth
Total Gross: $24 Million
The documentary on Al Gore’s global warming campaign was a success critically and at the box office. An Inconvenient Truth won the Academy Award for best documentary. An Inconvenient Truth has been credited with raising public awareness on the environment and some schools even present the documentary to their students as part of their science curriculum.
4th Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Sicko
Total Gross: $24 Million
Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary was Sicko. Sicko was a documentary on the health care in America. Sicko explored the fact that 50 million Americans do not have health insurance and even the people that do have health insurance are often the victims of fraud.
3rd Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Earth (2009)
Total Gross: $32 Million
Earth is another documentary from Disneynature. Like their previous attempt, Oceans, this documentary is certainly pretty to look at and if marveling at Mother Nature is your thing then so be it. Like its predecessor Earth doesn’t teach us or make us think about any particular topic.
2nd Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: March of the Penguins
Total Gross: $77 Million
If Oceans and Earth have points deducted for not having a point then I guess to be fair March of the Penguins should too. March of the Penguins is at least about a specific animal though and not just a bunch of general shots of different animals in different scenery.
1st Highest Grossing Documentary of All-Time: Fahrenheit 9/11
Total Gross: $119 Million
Fahrenheit 9/11 was a very controversial documentary but controversy sells at the box office. Fahrenheit 9/11 was another Michael Moore project. This one analyzed the Bush administration and the American corporate media during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.