Waiting for Superman to Profit

Seventeen days after its debut, Davis Guggenheim's "Inconvenient Truth," starring Al Gore, had grossed $2,921,406 -- not huge, but a respectable amount of money for a documentary that would go on to win an Academy Award.

Guggenheim's latest effort on education policy, "Waiting for Superman," isn't fairing as well. Seventeen days after its debut, it has grossed $1.4 million.

It's a great film, and it had all the buzz in the world, including major magazine cover stories, a tie-in election (the Washington, D.C. mayoral race), and an extensive media engagement campaign. But it isn't making a splash.

By way of comparison, Michael Moore's "Farenheit 911" grossed more than $72 million. By comparison, "Waiting for Superman" is keeping pace with "The Aristocrats," a film about the dirtiest joke every told.

For those in the industry, the per-screen averages show the same twist.

One big difference is that "Waiting for Superman"'s producers seem to have made a dedicated decision to screen the film for elite audiences. When you're grossing $50,000 a day, private screenings for teachers and education bureaucrats take away from your target audience.

Also, there's no Al Gore.