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EVEREST Surpasses TO FLY as Box Office Leader


Written by: MacGillivray Freeman Films
Date: January 21, 2003

EVEREST has overtaken TO FLY as the all-time box office leader amongst all Big Movies, as well as documentary films in general (Big Movie or standard 35mm), according to a press release from the company who produced and distributes both titles.


Category: Press Releases


"EVEREST" Breaks Record Previously Held By MacGillivray Freeman's "TO FLY!"

Laguna Beach, CA, January 21, 2003-Marking an historic achievement in the film industry, MacGillivray Freeman Films' EVEREST has amassed over $120.6 million in worldwide box office (earning $84.4 million in the U.S. and Canada alone), making it the highest grossing documentary and giant screen film of all time. EVEREST, which has been in continual release since March 6, 1998, breaks the previous record held by TO FLY!, also produced and distributed by MacGillivray Freeman Films, which has grossed $115.7 million since its release on July 1, 1976. TO FLY! grossed this amount over a twenty-five year period, while EVEREST surpassed this record in just under five years.

EVEREST, directed by Greg MacGillivray, Stephen Judson, and David Breashears, and produced by MacGillivray, Judson and Alec Lorimore, set all records for the giant screen format by grossing $100 million in under two years and becoming the first giant screen film to appear on Variety's Top 10 Box Office Chart next to such feature blockbusters as TITANIC and GODZILLA. Making it all the more remarkable, EVEREST reached its current milestone after playing in only 243 theatres worldwide in a total of 236 cities on six continents, giving EVEREST an unprecedented per-screen average of $496,296.

Even with fewer than 300 large format screens available worldwide, a majority of giant screen films such as EVEREST and TO FLY! routinely surpass successful feature documentaries such as BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, ROGER & ME and HOOP DREAMS in both theatrical attendance and box office grosses. Giant screen films have grossed an estimated $4 billion, evidence of the popular appeal of these films.

MacGillivray Freeman's next giant screen film release is CORAL REEF ADVENTURE (February 14, 2003). Directed by MacGillivray, CORAL REEF ADVENTURE is the dramatic story of a husband and wife team of underwater cinematographers, Howard & Michele Hall, on a 10-month expedition to document in 70mm film the endangered coral reefs of the South Pacific. Jean-Michel Cousteau also appears in the film, which was filmed in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, Tahiti, Moorea and Rangiroa. Featuring songs written and recorded by Crosby, Stills & Nash and narrated by Liam Neeson, CORAL REEF ADVENTURE is MacGillivray's third mission-driven oceanic film. His first two, THE LIVING SEA (1995) and DOLPHINS (2000) each received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject.

"EVEREST became a cultural phenomenon that captured the attention of the entire world, not only because of the tragic storm that cost eight lives, but because this was a film people connected to emotionally," noted MacGillivray. "It reminded me of the public's reaction after seeing TO FLY! over twenty-five years ago. Each film instilled a powerful emotion in people. The success of both films is testament also to the great story-telling power and unique immersive experience of the IMAX® theatre medium."

When TO FLY! was released in 1976 there were only four IMAX theatres in the world, located at San Diego's Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Toronto's Ontario Place, Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, and Circus World in Orlando. The film's immediate success was credited with spurring on a spree of IMAX theatre construction across North America as museum directors realized the potential for such films to increase attendance and revenue. Twenty-two years later, EVEREST was credited with having a similar galvanizing effect on the industry. When EVEREST opened there were 200 large format theatres around the world, but two years later 100 new theatres were either under construction or slated to be built.

Narrated by Liam Neeson and featuring songs by George Harrison, EVEREST is the awe-inspiring story of three climbers who reached the summit of Mt. Everest in 1996, the year a tragic storm took the lives of eight people attempting to climb the mountain.

TO FLY! was directed and produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films for Francis Thompson Inc. and sponsored by Conoco. An exhilarating chronicle of man's fascination with flight, TO FLY! premiered as the centerpiece of the Smithsonian Institution's grand opening celebrations for the National Air and Space Museum, where it has played non-stop for over twenty-five years, making TO FLY! the longest-running ticketed film in one location in film history.

EVEREST and TO FLY! have been honored with numerous national and international filmmaking awards. In 1996, the Library of Congress selected TO FLY! for inclusion in the prestigious National Film Registry as one of the most important films of the twentieth century. It joined such classics as CITIZEN KANE and GONE WITH THE WIND. In 1998, EVEREST received three Maximum Image Awards for Best Picture, Best Cinematography and Best Score. In 2001, TO FLY! was inducted into the IMAX Hall of Fame.

MacGillivray Freeman Films has been producing motion pictures for forty years and is the world's leading producer and distributor of films for IMAX theatres and large format cinemas. MacGillivray Freeman Films has produced twenty-seven giant screen films, which are among the most successful documentaries and giant screen films ever produced, including THE LIVING SEA, which has grossed $84.4 million worldwide, and DOLPHINS, which has grossed $66.6 million worldwide. Combined, MacGillivray Freeman Films' giant screen films have grossed over $650 million at the box office worldwide.

Launched in 1963 by Greg MacGillivray and the late Jim Freeman, and based in Laguna Beach, California, MacGillivray Freeman Films has been setting the standard in giant screen filmmaking for more than two decades. A pioneer in the industry, MacGillivray is well-known for his artistic and technical innovations in the giant format. He has initiated the development of three new IMAX cameras-the high-speed (slow-motion) camera, the industry's first lightweight camera, and the "all-weather" camera used during filming on Mt. Everest. MacGillivray Freeman Films has received hundreds of national and international awards including two Academy Award nominations, and currently has thirty films in its distribution library.

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Lori Rick
Director of Public Relations
MacGillivray Freeman Films
P.O. Box 205
Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Tel: 949-494-1055, ext. 118
Fax: 949-494-2079

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