A Strong Crop of Documentaries, but Barely Seen
With the books closed on 2010, it will go down as a banner year for film documentaries. Unless you expected someone to go see them.
Even with backing from some of Hollywood’s most aggressive distributors, a strong and varied lineup of feature documentaries barely registered with a mass audience that clearly preferred fiction to anything real.
The best performer among conventional documentaries released in 2010 was Walt Disney’s “Oceans,” an English-language reconstruction of a French nature film by the directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. Released in April, “Oceans” had domestic ticket sales of about $19 million.
“Too many great documentaries are made each year, and only a select number receive a theatrical run,” said Ted Leonsis, the founder and chairman of SnagFilms, which has made a business of aggregating documentaries and distributing them both via Web sites and, under a recent arrangement, on fee-based channels through Comcast and Verizon’s FiOS service.