"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," the pro-intelligent design documentary featuring actor Ben Stein, made history this weekend as it skyrocketed into place as the 13th highest grossing documentary film of all time. Since its release on April 18, the film has earned an astounding $6.6 million while only in its 3rd week in the box office.
Despite opposition from critics such as Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times, who called the film a "conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry," producers of the movie said that reaction to the film and its ideas questioning the tenets of Darwinism had generated an "over the top" reaction among moviegoers.
"We did exit polling on the first weekend and the exit polling done in six states with 1,100 people showed that 97 percent of the people who were polled said they liked the film," said associate producer Mark Mathis, according to Baptist Press.
Even as the film continues to rake in record profits and defies expectations, however, producers of the film argue that those opposed to the film and its message continue to paint the film as a flop, unfairly comparing its performance to that of the high grossing documentaries by liberal filmmaker Michael Moore.
Michael Moore's much hyped "Fahrenheit 9/11," for example, enjoyed both millions of dollars of paid advertising and promotions in a market that was largely receptive to the film's message of criticizing the Bush administration.
"Michael Moore comes out with a film and Michael Moore gets large amounts of time on morning shows – NBC, ABC, CBS, cable networks. He gets tens of millions of dollars of free publicity because Big Media see the world in general the way he does. Same thing with Al Gore's film (An Inconvenient Truth)," Mathis noted.
"Expelled doesn't get that, and not only does it not get that, but it gets the opposite – a massive panning," he added.
Mathis also noted that the traditionally liberal and biased nature of Hollywood meant that comparing "Expelled" with a Michael Moore documentary was like comparing apples to oranges.
While liberal documentaries like "Sicko," a documentary investigating the health care system, are ranked highly by critics, movies like "Expelled" are judged harshly, he noted.
"[Moore] has the tables set for him in a way that it's not set for anybody else who comes at this stuff from a conservative side. Documentary film has been traditionally a liberal arena," Mathis pointed out.
Ultimately, however, the biggest difference between a movie like "Expelled" and many of the liberal documentaries by Michael Moore, Mathis claimed, was that "Expelled" is primarily concerned with getting the facts to audiences without bias or prejudice.
"There is not anything in the film that you can point to and say, 'This is dishonest. This is manipulation.' You can disagree and say, 'I think that drawing a connection between Darwinian ideas and Nazi ideas is not justified.' ... People can disagree. But it's not like some other documentaries. ... We didn't just go out there and interview these people and say, 'They say they were mistreated and that's it.' We were on campuses all over the place, interviewing different people and talking to different people.... Without exception, on every single campus it was acknowledged that the level of hostility toward Intelligent Design is palpable, that everybody knows about it," he said.
"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is a feature-length documentary film about researchers, professors, and academics who claim to have been marginalized, silenced, or threatened with academic expulsion because of their challenges to some or all parts of Darwin's theory of evolution.
Since its April 18 release, the film has attracted both praise and controversy in its challenge against Darwinism.