Flunked, Not Expelled: Watch for the “Mandatory Field Trip” Bump

Expelled Remember the “GetExpelled Challenge” kickback scheme? If that is working, we should see some mid-week action in the gate statistics, since weekdays are the likely times for mandatory school trips.

My prediction: Christian private school administrators are likely in general not as stupid as the “Expelled” promoters think, and won’t be significantly bumping up the so-far dismal returns “Expelled” has been getting: nowhere close to the 2 million tickets or the $23.9 million opening weekend figures fantasized by the “Expelled” producers.

Update: It doesn’t look like Monday was a “field trip” day for “Expelled”. Here’s the data for Monday the 21st:


-68.8% / –

1,052 / $227

$3,209,652 / 4

Tickets down over two thirds… yes, weekdays aren’t a patch on weekends for movie going, so I decided to look at what other releases show.

Here’s the stuff for “Forbidden Kingdom”. It was released Friday, like “Expelled”, but it’s in Number 1 position now. Its sales slacked off by 70%.


-70.1% / –

3,151 / $537

$23,093,888 / 4

Let’s not forget “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. It’s down almost 66%.


-65.6% / –

2,798 / $600

$19,404,430 / 4

Those bracket the slack-off “Expelled” experienced. There doesn’t seem to be any sign here of a “field trip bump”.

Update: Tuesday’s numbers are out, and “Expelled” again neither falling nor rising faster than the rest of the recently released movies. Its decline is slightly less at 4.8% than the 6.6% average of the top ten. I’m estimating that difference from the average amounts to a bit over 500 tickets. So if that represents a “field trip bump”, it’s pretty anemic.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

7 thoughts on “Flunked, Not Expelled: Watch for the “Mandatory Field Trip” Bump

  • 2008/04/22 at 6:39 pm

    Expelled a 10!


    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” finished in the
    Top 10 among all movies in weekend box office estimates and could be on its
    way to finishing in the Top 10 all-time for documentaries.

    The Ben Stein film about the debate between supporters of Darwinian
    evolution and Intelligent Design grossed $3.1 million, placing it ninth for
    the weekend. But its per-theater average of $2,997 — it opened in just over
    1,000 theaters, which is a third of what some movies opened in — put it at

    The Los Angeles Times’ Josh Friedman wrote that the opening was “robust for
    a documentary,” while Entertainment Weekly’s Joshua Rich said its gross was
    “very respectable” for its genre.

    But in comparing it to other documentaries’ box office success, analysts
    struggled to find parallels. Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” opened in 868
    theaters and grossed $23.9 million its first weekend for first place,
    although the movie’s target was a sitting president during a
    much-anticipated election year.

    “I’m not sure that’s a fair comparison given how Michael Moore’s film was
    about a much more resonant topic, had broad mainstream buzz, and opened
    during the summer,” Rich wrote.

    Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” rolled out gradually — four theaters its
    first weekend, 77 its second and 122 its third. Its peak in theater count
    came in weeks six and seven with 587 theaters, when it had a per-theater
    average of $2,879 and $4,434, respectively. Conservatives no doubt will
    argue that Gore’s film also had the backing of the mainstream media —
    something that Expelled did not. Most movie critics, in fact, blasted it.

    Fahrenheit 9/11 ranks first all-time among documentaries in lifetime gross
    with $119.1 million, followed by “March of the Penguins” ($77.4 million),
    “Sicko” ($24.5 million), “An Inconvenient Truth” ($24.1 million) and
    “Bowling for Columbine” ($21.5 million). No. 10 on the list is “Hoop Dreams”
    at $7.8 million.

    “Expelled . fared better than prerelease tracking had signaled,” Friedman of
    The Times wrote. “Its opening was robust for a documentary, though it was
    far from the Michael Moore-type blockbuster the producers had been hoping

    … continues …

  • 2008/04/22 at 10:08 pm

    Unfortunately for Expelled, a 70% drop of their revenue puts them a lot closer to empty theatre status. If it’s playing to almost empty rooms by the end of the week some places will drop it.

  • 2008/04/22 at 11:53 pm

    “Baptist Press” was hardly likely to headline it, “Expelled Needs Improvement”. As it was, their writer seems to have run out of steam for keeping up the spin.

    I am not sure about when theaters decide to cut their losses. The 70% drop from Sunday to Monday appears to happen to all the movies, so that in itself wouldn’t say, “Flunk me”. However, that total of $227 average per theater for Monday coupled with about 10% of that going to the theater owners, and you are looking at not even paying the janitorial staff to keep up with that theater. Theaters get bigger cuts in later weeks, but by all appearances, “Expelled” has no legs, and 50% of close to nothing is even closer to nothing.

    I think a significant drop in the number of theaters showing “Expelled” in the next week or two will tell the tale far more eloquently than anything I can say here.

  • 2008/04/25 at 8:02 am

    Wes –

    There actually was a small upward bump according to Wednesday’s numbers. It’s up $7364 over Tuesdays take. Not enough to offset the big 10 grand prize to the winning school, but something.

  • 2008/04/25 at 8:51 am

    Don’t forget stochasticity. 23 other movies out of 46 tracked showed advances on Wednesday. That’s a difference, in “Expelled”‘s case, of *one* more ticket sold per theater on Wednesday than on Tuesday. Not exactly convincing evidence of a widespread busloading of kids to the theaters.

  • 2008/04/26 at 7:21 am

    Point taken. Looking at Thursday’s numbers, it’s down again. There’s nothing systematic there. Looks like a total critical and box office stinker – and doesn’t even have the benefit of being truthful. I’m sure it’ll live on in the DVD market.

  • 2008/04/27 at 7:27 am

    A 94.4% uptick for Friday. Looks impressive at first, but these Friday upticks are common as all of the other movies released 8 days ago also had them, and Expelled’s was the lowest of the bunch. Nim’s Island had a whopping 212.5% uptick. Also, the number of theatres dropped from 1052 to 1041. It’s currently ranked #16 for documentaries and #13 for ‘Christian’ films.

    What? It’s all about science!

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