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Bob Marley documentary off to solid start at box office

April 22, 2012 |  2:31 pm

More than three decades after his death, Bob Marley continues to fascinate legions of fans, as evidenced by the solid debut of a documentary about the reggae musician at the box office this weekend.

"Marley," directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin MacDonald, played in 42 theaters this weekend and collected a respectable $260,000, according to an estimate from distributor Magnolia Pictures.

Because the Rastafarian singer embraced marijuana, Magnolia decided to open the film on April 20, an unofficial holiday when many often gather together to smoke. The film was also made available to screen for $6.99 via Facebook that day, and fans could also rent it on video-on-demand platforms. On Sunday, the documentary was the No. 6 top movie rental on iTunes, behind far more commercial films like "We Bought a Zoo" and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Neal Block, Magnolia's head of distribution, said he was hopeful that strong word-of-mouth and positive reviews would help the film "transcend being considered only a music documentary."

Indeed, music documentaries have had mixed success at the box office in recent years. In 2011, "Beats, Rhymes & Life," about the group A Tribe Called Quest, started with a strong $111,982 in only four theaters but eventually grossed only a moderate $1.2 million. "Tupac: Resurrection," a documentary about the late rapper Tupac Shakur, had more commercial appeal in 2003, when it ended up collecting $7.7 million.


Movie review: 'Marley' a fitting tribute to reggae star

Berlin Film Festival: Bob Marley documentary unveiled

Box Office: 'Think Like a Man' rakes in surprising $33 million

—Amy Kaufman

Photo: Bob Marley in 1976. Credit: AFP.

"Tupac: Resurrection"