When Deep Sea 3D is smoking Julia Roberts at the Cineplex box office, you know something strange is going on. But ever since that BBC/Discovery series Planet Earth wowed TV viewers with its stunning pictures, movie-goers have been opting for nature docs over the dream factory. Space Station, for example, stands at US$78.5 million in domestic theaters, compared with $65.3 million for the Paul Rudd comedy, I Love You, Man. And Disney’s Earth is expected to earn $10 million in it’s first five days. A Warner exec credits a combination of factors, from the family-friendly quality of the nature films to the fact they often enjoy much longer runs, playing as they do at museums and public institutions. Then again, it could be that the artifice of many Hollywood movies has come to feel too—what’s the word?—artificial. Coral reefs might not be sexy, but at least they’re real. What’s more, they never wind up in rehab.
For Hollywood, there’s money in being green
Nature and science films are cleaning up at the box office