Documentaries are rarely big money makers, but we talk about them as having the power to influence change and motivate people to action in a way even narrative films cannot. So when a documentary does make a splash at the box office, it’s an even bigger surprise. This summer, “RBG,” “Three Identical Strangers” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” are big hits when it comes to documentaries. And the Mister Rogers doc is well on its way to cracking this list of the top 15 grossing documentaries at the box office. This list is an interesting mix of political, nature and concert documentaries, and several of them likewise went on to win Oscars and critical acclaim. All numbers are domestic totals via Box Office Mojo.
15. “Monkey Kingdom” (2015) – $16.4 million
You’ll see a lot of Disneynature documentaries on this list. The newest of the bunch to crack the Top 15 is this film about the “Temple Troop” of monkeys that live in ancient ruins in Sri Lanka, as narrated by Tina Fey.
14. “Bears” (2014) – $17.7 million
John C. Reilly narrates this look at an Alaskan bear family.
13. “Oceans” (2010) – $19.4 million
Pierce Brosnan narrates this 2010 Disneynature documentary filmed across the world’s oceans.
12. “Bowling for Columbine” (2002) – $21.5 million
Michael Moore’s provocative documentary about American gun violence won the Oscar for Best Documentary and even broke international box office records for a documentary in 2002.
11. “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006) – $24.1 million
Davis Guggenheim’s documentary spotlighting Al Gore’s plea to alert the world to the effects of global warming and climate change went on to win two Oscars and earn a sequel 10 years later.
10. “Sicko” (2007) – $24.5 million
Another Michael Moore movie to crack the list, “Sicko” was Moore’s look at the healthcare industry in America compared to other nations.
9. “Katy Perry: Part of Me” (2012) – $25.3 million
This 2012 concert movie followed Katy Perry on her California Dreams World Tour.
8. “One Direction: This is Us” (2013) – $28.8 million
Morgan Spurlock directed this concert doc about the then wildly popular British boy group.
7. “Chimpanzee” (2012) – $28.9 million
Tim Allen narrated this Disneynature doc about a three-month old chimp separated from his flock and adopted by another grown male.
6. “Earth” (2007) – $32 million
The first of Disneynature’s documentaries, “Earth” was a theatrical version of the popular TV miniseries “Planet Earth” from 2006. “Earth” finally got its theatrical release stateside in 2009.
5. “2016: Obama’s America” (2012) – $33.4 million
Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Obama documentary speculated about where the country would be if Obama won a second term in office in 2012.
4. “Michael Jackson’s This is It” (2009) – $72 million
The footage in “This is It” comes from a behind-the-scenes look at preparation for Michael Jackson’s final planned tour, which was cancelled in the wake of his death. It wasn’t originally meant to be made into a film, but it provided an intimate look at Jackson in his final days.
3. “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” (2011) – $73 million
The Biebs holds the spot for the highest grossing concert film ever and the documentary with the biggest opening weekend of all time.
2. “March of the Penguins” (2005) – $77.4 million
People sure love penguins. Morgan Freeman narrates the nature documentary that opened on just four screens but soon spread into a nationwide hit.
1. “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2004) – $119.1 million
Michael Moore’s scathing documentary about President Bush and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks is the highest grossing documentary of all time and it isn’t even close. The film won the Pale D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and then sparked massive controversy ahead of its release that only boosted its notoriety. Opening at over $23 million, the movie at the time opened higher than any other documentary had ever grossed in its lifetime. Moore now plans to follow-up the film with a documentary about the 2016 election, the cleverly titled “Fahrenheit 11/9.”
Read original story 15 Top Grossing Documentaries at the Box Office, From ‘Monkey Kingdom’ to ‘Sicko’ (Photos) At TheWrap