Kirk Cameron made headlines in early March after appearing on CNN’s Piers Morgan Show, where Cameron voiced his views on homosexuality: “I think that it’s – it’s – it’s unnatural. I think that it’s – it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”
According to Cameron, he had gone on Piers Morgan to promote his documentary Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure, directed by Duane Barnhart and written by Kevin Miller. Although Piers Morgan ignored Monumental, as a result of the “gay controversy,” publications that would have paid no attention to a low-budget documentary with a far-right Christian slant made note of it.
A few weeks later, on Tuesday, March 27, Monumental had a special one-show preview at a reported 550 locations, described in the film’s press release as a “one-night theatrical event that will inspire audiences to rediscover the people [the pilgrims] and principles that made America the strongest, most free and prosperous nation on Earth.”
Citing another press release from the film’s production company, The Baptist Press states that Monumental, which may have cost $500,000 (budget sources are spotty), collected $1.23 million that evening, averaging $2,400 (actually $2,236) per venue.
For comparison’s sake: Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence’s major blockbuster The Hunger Games, on its fifth day out at 4,137 locations, with four or five shows per day, grossed $10.34 million, averaging $2,501 per theater. That Tuesday, no other movie – all of which with multiple screenings – managed a per-theater average above $1,000. In fact, the day’s second-highest average belonged to the Channing Tatum / Jonah Hill comedy 21 Jump Street: $701.
So, how could Monumental score such an impressive per-theater average after one single show? Box Office Mojo features no information about the one-time Tuesday screenings. But it does provide the box office reports for Monumental‘s weekend screenings.
On its first weekend out, March 30-April 1, Monumental grossed $28,340 at six locations, averaging a mediocre $4,723 per theater. Remember, all things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters, the higher the per-theater average should be.
For comparison’s sake: That same weekend, The Weinstein Company’s Bully averaged $23,294 at five locations, while in late March the Christian drama October Baby averaged $4,352 on its first (rerelease) weekend at 390 venues.
On weekend two, Monumental dropped 70 percent, scoring a disastrous $1,403 at its six sites. Following the addition of 21 theaters on weekend three, the film took in $59,842, averaging a slightly better – though still meager – $2,216 per location. After losing five sites on weekend four, Monumental was down a whopping 70 percent, averaging an abysmal $814 per theater.
Once again, how could Monumental boast an outstanding $2,236 average from a single showing at 550 locations on a weeknight, and follow that with mediocre-to-abysmal averages in the ensuing three-day weekends, each with multiple showtimes?
As to be expected, Monumental has been well-received by some in the Fundamentalist Christian media. Other reviewers have all but ignored the film. It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
One of the few Monumental reviews not found in Christian publications was posted at Opposing Views. In this critique of the documentary, Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Joseph L. Conn says “The theme of the movie seems to be that the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious liberty, and they set up a model Christian community that we ought to emulate today. Well, here’s some news, Kirk and Company, the Pilgrims and Puritans did come here seeking religious liberty, but they set up a regime that gave freedom only to themselves, denying it to others. In keeping with its religious viewpoint, Plymouth Colony prescribed the death penalty for adulterers, homosexuals and witches, whipping for denying the scriptures and a fine for harboring a Quaker.”
Conn ends his review with the following warning: “Don’t be misled by Kirk Cameron’s charming smile. It masks a chilling agenda.”