Last year was another boom year for the documentary genre, both creatively and financially. In fact, three of 2012′s films – 2016: Obama’s America, Chimpanzee, and Katy Perry: Part of Me – became part of the ten highest grossing documentaries of all time. Box office performance is, of course, no indication of quality, and only one of my five favorite documentaries of 2012, The Queen of Versailles, made it on to the list. Still, it’s always interesting to see what other people are into.
Without further ado, the top 10 moneymakers of 2012:
1. 2016: Obama’s America – $33.4m. I guess libel and slander count as documentary, too.
2. Chimpanzee – $28.9m. Disney has been making a killing off family-oriented animal docs.
3. Katy Perry: Part of Me – $25.3m. Not quite Madonna: Truth or Dare.
4. Bully – $3.4m. Hollywood’s biggest bully releases an anti-bullying movie.
5. Searching for Sugar Man – $3.0m. A musical mystery tour, from South Africa to Detroit.
6. Samsara – $2.6m. An international travelogue for cinematography fans and dialogue-phobes.
7. Jiro Dreams of Sushi – $2.5m. The familiar tale of an exacting father and a disappointing son set in the world of Michelin-starred sushi. (Oedipus Rice?)
8. The Queen of Versailles – $2.4m. A time-share billionaire and his trophy wife attempt to build the biggest house in America… and then the recession hits.
9. Marley – $1.4m. Reggae’s biggest star gets a respectful but fair treatment.
10. Air Racers 3D - $1.3m. The “ultimate air show experience” didn’t make a blip on my radar — nor anyone else’s, it appears. It somehow made over a million dollars without a Wikipedia page, so, uh, kudos to its marketing team.