The Surprise Hit of the Pre-Summer Is RBG

Illustration for article titled The Surprise Hit of the Pre-Summer Is iRBG/i
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg is pulling in audiences. The documentary RBG, which covers the life of our beloved Supreme Court Justice, has been quietly raking in the dough at the box office.


Since its limited release on May 4, the movie has made $4 million on only 375 screens, according to Vanity Fair, and its anticipated that it will gross $4.5 million by this coming Friday. That sounds like beans compared to many big budget blockbusters, but the vast majority of documentaries don’t break $1 million. In fact, the 2011 list of highest-grossing documentaries of all time from IndieWire shows that RBG could potentially move into the top 25.

Neal Block, president of distribution for Magnolia Pictures, the indie outfit that acquired the film at Sundance, told Variety, “I think the film is an incredibly profound statement about hope in America and people are responding to that.”


RBG first opened in only 34 theaters in 10 cities. Magnolia expanded to 145 additional theaters over Mother’s Day weekend, bringing in $1 million with that sweet mom-and-daughter movie bonding action. They’re planning to be in 400 theaters by Memorial Day weekend, so if you get rained out of beaching and barbecuing, you know where to turn—toward Justice.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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I saw this with a bunch of my lady lawyer friends last week, and it was a wonderful time. The movie is very good - it is obviously very “pro” RBG, but it’s not mindless fanboy worship. There are some conservative voices included and even Nina Totenberg has a word of criticism. It strikes a great balance between highlighting her amazing career and her seriousness while also showcasing her humanity and sense of humor. Go see it if you can, and bring along a young woman or little girl in your life. She will surely be inspired.

Also: I know I tell you guys about when I met her all the time, but that’s my arm in the movie for a second and a half! My friends all cheered when it came on the screen, and people in the lobby of the theater after it was over were all giving me high-fives. It was fun. :)