‘Generation Iron’ Debuts With Year’s Best Opening For a Non-Concert Doc

schwarzenegger generation iron

With One Direction: This Is Us continuing to rake in seven-digit figures at the box office, there’s still no real competition for the pop music doc-chart-topper. But there was a fairly surprising dark horse debut over the weekend: Vlad Yudin’s bodybuilding movie Generation Iron opened on 55 screens and with a total gross of $245k. That’s the best for a non-concert-based film and third-best opening of the year behind the One Direction film and Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. Not bad for a self-distributed doc, even one narrated by Mickey Rourke and featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and from one of the producers of Pumping Iron (Jerome Gary). With the film set to expand to another 100 theaters this weekend, this looks to be one of the big nonfiction hits of 2013.

Generation Iron only had the 12th greatest per-theater average, however. The champion there for newcomers is Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s late-term abortion film After Tiller (review), which took in a decent $15.5k total ($7.8k per-screen) considering its heavy subject matter. That was just a bit higher than GMO OMG, which made another $14.5k from two screens in its second weekend. Another doc with a strong opening at more than a couple theaters is kid golf pic The Short Game, which grossed $28.4k from 17 screens.

Other new films that opened Friday include Men at Lunch ($1.53k), Jerusalem ($7.7k) and Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer ($0.8k).

Here is the weekend box office (with averages in parenthesis) for 9/20–9/22 including new and continuing releases:

1. One Direction: This Is Us — $1.1m ($0.7k)

2. Generation Iron — $245k ($4.5k)

3. Salinger — $182k ($1.3k)

4. Hubble 3D— $38.8k ($2.7k)

5. The Short Game— $28.4k ($1.7k)

6. Good Ol’ Freda— $18.5k ($1.9k)

7. After Tiller— $15.5k ($7.8k)

8. GMO OMG— $14.5k ($7.3k)

9. Space Station 3D— $13.8k ($5k)

10. Blackfish— $13k ($0.5k)

11. Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve— $12.8k ($4.3k)

12. Mademoiselle C— $10.3k ($1.5k)

13. To the Arctic— $8.6k ($1k)

14. Born to Be Wild— $8.56k ($1k)

15. Jerusalem— $7.7k ($7.7k)

16. When Comedy Went to School— $5.9k ($0.8k)

17. Under the Sea 3D— $5.5k ($0.7k)

18. Deep Sea 3D— $4.7k ($2.3k)

19. Galapagos— $3.4k ($0.6k)

20. Meerkats— $2.3k ($2.3k)

21. The Act of Killing— $2.2k ($0.2k)

22. Le Joli Mai— $2.1k ($1.1k)

23. Rising From Ashes— $2.05k ($0.7k)

24. Terms and Conditions May Apply— $1.8k ($0.5k)

25. Men at Lunch— $1.53k ($1.53k)

26. Flying Monsters— $1.527k ($0.8k)

27. Spark: A Burning Man Story— $1.05k ($0.5k)

28. Stories We Tell— $0.98k ($0.2k)

29. Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer— $0.8k ($0.8k)

30. The Informant— $0.7k ($0.4k)

31. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me— $0.5k ($0.2k)

32. Our Nixon— $0.49k ($0.2k)

33. Free the Mind— $0.48k ($0.5k)

34. Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie— $0.2k ($57)

And here is the current top 25 doc box office for 2013 (note the changeover from millions to thousands):

  1. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain — $32.2m
  2. One Direction: This Is Us — $28.5m ($62.3m worldwide)
  3. Hubble 3D (IMAX) — $4.9m
  4. 20 Feet From Stardom — $4.6m
  5. To the Arctic (IMAX) — $2.9m
  6. The Gatekeepers — $2.4m
  7. Blackfish — $2m
  8. Space Station 3D (IMAX) — $1.9m
  9. Stories We Tell — $1.6m
  10. Born to Be Wild (IMAX) — $1.56m
  11. Girl Rising — $1.53m
  12. Flying Monsters— $1.49m
  13. Under the Sea 3D— $1.1m
     — -
  14. 56 Up — $700k
  15. Searching For Sugar Man — $686k
  16. Deep Sea 3D (IMAX) — $668k
  17. Chasing Ice — $530k
  18. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorfs — $510k
  19. Sound City — $421k
  20. The Act of Killing — $420k
  21. Dirty Wars — $371k
  22. Hava Nagila: The Movie — $369k
  23. Salinger— $358k
  24. Koch — $343k
  25. Happy People: A Year in the Taiga — $339k

Data pulled from Box Office Mojo and IMDb and Deadline.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.