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Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mister Rogers: Hollywood’s Newest Breakout Stars

New York Times

By John Anderson

June 26, 2018


According to conventional wisdom, audiences for documentaries live on the coasts and vote Democratic. But these are unconventional times.

“Technically, Juneau is a ‘coastal area,’ ” joked Collette Costa, a co-owner of that city’s Gold Town Nickelodeon. “But overall, Alaska is a pretty red state.” Nevertheless, she said, “I’ve had to hold over ‘RBG’ for four weeks now, and it’s the biggest moneymaking film I’ve shown since we bought the theater eight years ago.”

“RBG” — Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s affectionate film biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the associate justice of the Supreme Court and superstar of liberal jurisprudence — is the surprise hit of the season. Since its release May 4, its grosses have exceeded $11 million, a remarkable achievement in 2018 for a specialty film (whether nonfiction, art house or foreign). Similarly, audiences are also saying, “It’s you I like” to the director Morgan Neville’s portrait of Fred Rogers, public TV’s “Mister Rogers.” That movie, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” has collected nearly $7.5 million. (Most documentaries this year earned less than $200,000 at the box office.) Read more