Documentaries Find Success At Summer Specialty Box Office

July 13, 2018

Among the usual crop of summer popcorn movies, an intriguing micro-trend has popped up—audiences are increasingly interested in documentaries focusing on narrow, idiosyncratic subjects. Biographical docs RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Whitney and Three Identical Strangers have seen both critical acclaim (all four are Certified Fresh on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes) and great specialty box office results. Unlike the documentaries that generally hit big in theaters—usually political tracts from either the right or the left—this summer’s crop of popular docs hone in on very specific, human stories, which may speak to the national mood right now—or maybe they’re just inspiring unusually strong word-of-mouth.

Perhaps the viral popularity of documentary-style podcasts in recent years (Three Identical Strangers in particular, with all its twists, seems like it could easily have been a sleeper hit in audio form), plus the wealth of docs available on streaming services like Netflix, has made audiences consider nonfiction films as a viable alternative when deciding what to see on a hot summer evening. And Magnolia Pictures' RBG, in particular, is tapping into a recent surge of popular interest in its subject, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

For more on these films, read on at The Atlantic.