A little comparison

This new movie, Religulous, is doing reasonably well on its opening weekend, bringing in about $3.5 million. This is comparable to what Expelled brought in (about $3.7 million). There are a few differences, though.

  • Religulous hasn’t had much of an advertising campaign. Remember all the Expelled commercials everywhere, including The Daily Show? Maher’s movie has only relatively recently been getting plugged. It’s ads are more intelligently targeted, though.

  • Religulous only opened on 500 screens, compared to Expelled‘s 1000.

  • Religulous is coming off its opening weekend with great word of mouth and good critical reviews. Expelled attendance plummeted steadily from the first day onward.

  • One to think about, and maybe this isn’t a difference: Expelled had a built-in base of evangelical Christians to draw on (although many were disgusted by it, too). Does Religulous also draw upon a base of freethinkers? Is there a neglected audience for more godless entertainment? Will advertisers and investors figure this out?

They also have something in common. I’ve seen neither. I don’t think Bill Maher would throw me out of the theater if he spotted me in line, though. Or maybe he would — it was such great PR for Mark Mathis and company, wasn’t it?


  1. Wowbagger says

    I need to check it’s going to make it to the big screen in Australia. Otherwise it’s going to be a bit of a wait.

  2. Lee Picton says

    Same amount of money – half the number of screens. THat says to me it is doing twice as well as Expelled.

  3. says

    Unquestionably, it remains to be seen whether not Religulous does well. Conceivably it could fall off rapidly, while Expelled had a flock it could continue to shear (and which it was subsidizing through Xian schools for the first couple of weeks). It really didn’t do badly for a documentary, which is not surprising, since it spent a good deal of money for its audience.

    If it builds, great. I don’t know if it’s going to have any great effect on anything, but at least it would be encouraging to see laughter at the silliness of religion to be widespread.

    Glen D

  4. says

    I saw the film last night. It was playing on the largest screen in our local arthouse theatre. There were good crowds for both the last showing, which I attended with friends, and the previous showing. Not sold out, but 75% plus.

    The audience was quite enthusiastic & supportive, but I noted that many comments concerning “familiar” religious nonsense were followed by embarrassed silence by much of the crowd. It is still much easier to point out & criticize other people’s nonsensical beliefs than those that friends & family hold.

    I laughed my ass off the entire film.

  5. John says

    “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” –> $29 million

    Seriously?! The number one movie?!
    No wonder >80% of Americans believe in the supernatural…

    Get out there you non-believers and see Religulous!
    Do it for the children!
    Do it for the laughs!
    Do it just to piss off the Christians…

    Why are you still reading this.
    Go on now!

  6. Lauren says

    I thought it was quite funny that Expelled had an in-the-gutter Rottentomatoes rating of 8%, while Religulous has a rating of 65%

  7. QrazyQat says

    You’ll also notice on the box office chart that it was barely beaten by the rightwing comedy An American Carol, which is on 3 times as many screens.

  8. Ken McKnight says

    According to Box Office Mojo, Expelled brought in only $2,970,848 on the first weekend, half a million less than Religulous. Maher’s movie is rated at 65% on rottentomatoes.com, as compared to 8% for the execrable Expelled.

  9. Chelonian says

    Saw it last night, it was fun! There was a lot of atmosphere in the theater, which was packed, with the audience clapping and constantly laughing out loud. Of course this was in Boston, bastion of East Coast intellectual elitism if ever there was one, so it’s hardly representative of the reception the film ‘ll get elsewhere in the US. But I’m exhorting everyone I know, fellow elitist bastards or not, to go see it.

    It’s hardly a masterpiece of film-making nor of education/documentation, but I would say it achieves exactly what it sets out to do: make people laugh at the ridiculousness of religious beliefs.

  10. Alcari says

    Yes, unfortunately, the movie is playing in exactly zero locations here back in the old world, so we’ll just have to wait for a dvd.

    I know there would be a torrent of visitors if it showed here. (subtle huh?)

  11. Nick says

    Saw the film last night.

    It’s only playing on one arthouse screen here in Salt Lake City. Typical.

    ALL shows over the weekend were sold out!

    BTW, I laughed harder in Religulous than I ever have in any movie.

  12. yasic says

    According to IMDB Expelled made only 3.0 Million on its opening weekend… the 3.7 million is how much it made during its opening Week

    So Religulous is steamrolling expelled, making 15% more cash opening weekend while only opening in half the theaters!

  13. says

    Bill Maher’s ludicrous views on medicine still make me sad, though… I used to love watching Real Time, but it just isn’t the same now that I know he also falls victim to the credulity that upsets him so greatly…

  14. says

    Considering that my book that pretty much tears down Christianity is doing far better in places like Australia and Great Britain, I suspect the same will be true with this movie.

    I also suspect that a lot of quiet freethinkers and atheists who have kept their non-beliefs a secret will quietly go see the movie and come out feeling excited with a call to action. (I posted my thoughts on this in your other blog a few minutes ago about Bill’s closing remarks of the film.)

    Jeff Mark
    Author, Christian No More

  15. says

    Well, if you are going to use the free market as a barometer of quality, McDonald’s is the best. :)

    Of course, many of you here rag on McDonald’s for ideological purposes or to distance yourselves from the poor who flock to McDonald’s.

  16. room101 says

    I saw the movie last night in San Diego.

    Great flick, very funny. Place was packed with people sitting in on the floor against the wall. All age groups represented, too. Very encouraging.

    Up until the final scene, it was just Maher asking people questions and letting them step all over themselves with their nonsensical babbling. The final scene showed Maher essentially pleading with the audience to “wake up”.

    /*moderately potential spoiler alert*/

    What I like best however, is how the film showed that religion and the religious mindset is at odds to humanity and is a risk to the collective knowledge and progess of mankind. This was my favorite aspect of the movie: The parts where modernity and superstition intermingled. This was well done (by Maher and Charles, the director) and drew huge laughs from the audience.

    For instance, when Maher visited the holy land amusement park and was watching the crucifiction renactment, a plane flew overhead, and the camera panned up to the plane while the skit was being performed. To me, this was an in-your-face blatant challenge by Maher/Charles to get the audience to realize that the modern life we have all come to enjoy has PROGRESSED – and mankind has moved forward – despite desperate efforts to cling to bronze-age mythological nonsense.

    Also, during an interview with an Imam, the Imam’s cell phone rings and he takes 30 seconds to respond with a text message (prompting a hilarious subtitle interpretation of what the Imam was actually texting) and forcing Maher to quip: “Damn 21st century technology, always getting in the way!”

  17. says

    I saw it today at 10:10 am. There was about 3 dozen or so people in the theater (which considering this is in a more religious and conservative collection of burbs in Chicagoland is pretty good). I wore my t-shirt that says, “I’m not anti-religion. I’m just anti-hypocrisy.” I was a bit surprised when I didn’t see any protests outside.

    The movie itself was good. Mahr was respectful to the people he was interviewing for the most part. He asked logical, intelligent questions (which definitely rubbed some people the wrong way). The humor was good, but so was the accidental humor. For example he’s at the Holyland Amusement park in Florida and the PR lady comes out. She’s upset because she knows what kind of show he does. Then later in the film he’s at a mosque and a Muslim makes similar comments. Same thing happened when he was at the Mormon complex in Salt Lake City and the Vatican.

    I felt the part of the movie in Holland fell flat, but I blame that on the language barrier. My impression is that some people were thinking, “What the heck is this American saying?!” He meets with a priest of a religion that uses MJ and the guy is clearly stoned. He’s also the calmest person in the movie and hardly reacts when his hair gets too close to some candles.

    The main message of the movie is that religion gets normally rational people to believe in crazy things and do evil things and unless we give it up, we’re going to wind up destroying the world. “Grow up or die.” he says.


    I went out to lunch after the movie (the ticket was $5 which was cheaper than a medium popcorn and the restaurant knocks $2 off the price of an entree if you give them the ticket stub) and to my surprise my waitress and a adolescent said they liked my t-shirt. They could guess what movie I saw. I recommended it and gave my honest opinion.


    I agree with the other posts, considering the number of screens and lack of advertising it held its own against (and proportionally did better than) Expelled and American Carol.

  18. says

    I need to check it’s going to make it to the big screen in Australia. Otherwise it’s going to be a bit of a wait.

    Werd. Not even Dendy’s has a release date up yet :(

  19. Insightful Ape says

    I saw it with my friends(Cleveland Freethinkers) on Friday. The turnout was impressive, and the movie was funny and thought provoking. Two thumbs up to Bill Maher.

  20. says

    I saw this movie Friday night with about 40 members of our local Phoenix Atheists meetup group (the theatre was packed). One of our members made an announcement that we would be around if people wanted to talk to us after the movie, and a handful of people stopped by (good sign). I thought the movie was pretty entertaining. It was much like a Michael Moore “documentary”…biased, but it makes it’s point pretty well. The ending 3-4 minutes were pretty powerful.

  21. says

    Another similarity is that some religious folks are accusing Maher and Charles of the same interview tactics as the Expelled folks: telling interviewees that they were being interviewed for a movie with a different title (“A Spiritual Journey”, in this case), not mentioning Maher’s name at any point, and in fact having him show up only after the cameras started rolling, so that if the interviewee wanted to back out, they’d have it on film.

    IMDB does list “A Spiritual Journey” as a working title for the film, but for the rest, the only source seems to be an LA Times blog post.

  22. Nic Nicholson says

    Went to see this Friday night in Los Angeles.

    Got there just as it began in a relatively large theater. It was FULL. We had to sit in the very front row–the only place two adjacent seats were available.

    Nothing new, philosophically, but enjoyed it a lot!

  23. Troy Lacefield says

    Here in the bible belt of Lexington, Kentucky I went with about about dozen of my atheist friend. We were all surprise at how pack the theater was, or the fact that everyone applause after the movie.

  24. druidbros says

    My local venue will show “Expelled’ and ‘An American Carol’ but not this movie. So now I have to travel to another city to see it. Turd-eaters.

  25. Shreeram says

    Ben Stein????
    Probably just some goof taking the piss, but if it’s really you, you’ve got some nerve showing up here after your goons chucked PZ out of your despicable movie.

    Furthermore, why don’t you man up like Maher and admit to the devious tactics you used making your pathetic ‘documentary’. Bill has the balls to say it and laugh about it. Why don’t you?

    Anyway, if it’s any consolation, your movie certainly drew more laughs than Religulous ever will.

  26. Patricia says

    Oh goodie! I can’t wait for it to come somewhere near me. I’ll wear my Dawkins big red A t-shirt and my A lapel pin. Hot Damn!
    On the other hand I could dress like a slut, wear the scarlet A, and let them guess.

  27. Pierre says

    Here in Montréal it’s playing in 9 theaters in its original English
    version, and in 8 theaters dubbed in French (it’s then called “Relidicule”).
    I haven’t seen it yet, but I probably will go tomorrow evening. In its
    original version. I don’t expect a great movie, but at 65% on RT, it’s
    probably not that bad.

    I suspect that the 65% might represent a rating lower than the actual
    fun content of the movie, as there is surely a certain number of movie
    critics who happen to be deeply religious and decided to give it a bad
    review (the same movie critics that provided the 8% to Expelled, maybe?
    I think I’ll go compare their names… eh eh eh).

  28. J-Man says

    As you might hear on a radio show, “First time caller, long time listener.”

    I saw religulous today at a local theatre with what I assume was a few dozen like minded individuals. The movie was assembled a little awkwardly, but maintained interest and comedy through out. The poignant moments come at the end when the final message is driven home.

    I can’t say that I learned anything remarkably new in the movie, but I do know that I agreed with the message. The problem that I face is after receiving encouragement to question and confront religion and it’s followers, how do I go about that constructively and without alienating myself from my friends (especially those that are not like minded)?

  29. Cassidy says

    Saw it Friday with the Raleigh-Durham Atheists Meetup at an independent theater in Cary. Good crowd and lots of laughter – especially at the Truckers Chapel scene, which is right around here…

  30. --PatF in Madison says

    I saw Religulous yesterday at a theater in Madison. It is playing within a ten minute walk of my apartment. (I am saying this (a) to point out how Madison is superior to all other cities and (b) to make the rest of you jealous.)

    I though it was ok. I didn’t think it was rolling in the aisles funny but there were people in the theater who were laughing like crazy throughout the movie. I also thought it wasn’t as confrontational as it might have been although confrontations might have lead to severe beatings for the cast and crew.

    I think my wife shares my opinion. She grew up as a Unitarian and has always regarded the talking snake and such stories as figments of someone’s imagination. To us, Maher was just a rationalist speaking with some fundamentally irrational people. So, what else is new?

    In my opinion, the people who came out the best, were the truckers. They seem to really believe the bible stories but they don’t seem to have any vested interest in them. They just want to go to heaven and take as many people as they can with them. I thought their praying for Bill, a person who disagrees completely with them, was rather touching. I also thought that it was very polite of him to let them do that for him.

    I don’t know quite who came out worst. I think it was a tie between Ken Ham and the Mormons. (By the way, I think Ham, is an extremely scary looking dude. He looks as if he is ready to lose his temper and begin biting people’s throats at any moment. Maybe this intimidation factor is one of the reasons he is able to get the money people give him.)

    Ham really grates on me because he just spouts off his theories of men and dinosaurs without any evidence and demands people prove him wrong. This is what he did in the movie and I hope people get to see him in the way I did.

    The Mormons started out being funny. Maher spoke with a couple of apostate Mormons who told him about the nuttier parts of the theology and then hinted that, as renegades, they were pretty much ostracized in Utah. Then Maher and his crew were shown filming on Mormon property and security guards threw them out almost immediately. It’s a damn poor religion that can’t take a little criticism by a couple of guys with a camera crew.

    The bottom line is that the movie is. I just wish it were funnier. The best way to get rid of these nutty ideas is to laugh them out of existence.

  31. Breakfast says

    Yeah, I’m not quite sure why we should be invested in proving that Religulous is doing better than Expelled — I mean, I hope it does, but it’s pretty silly to tout slightly better box office popularity as proof of the movie’s superiority, as though that were indicative of quality (at least, when it’s on Our Side).

  32. janeothejungle says

    I have to note that here in Fresno, CA, Religulous is only playing on one screen at one theater (Expelled had 3 or 4), yet when we went to see it today it was a full crowd and everyone seemed to enjoy it. For our town, that’s pretty impressive in and of itself. It was pretty much what I expected (but funnier). Maybe there is hope for us yet….

  33. says

    I haven’t seen Religulous yet, as one who generally avoids movies in theaters these days, the type of customer who’ll wait for the blu-ray in my 7.1 home theater (Speed Racer! Iron Man!). I won’t inflict my kids on fellow movie patrons and, I don’t have to suffer through ears-bleeding broken speaker audio with the popcorn guy doubling as projectionist.

    I was having a crazy dream this morning about having to deal with a death sentence inflicted on not just PZ for his atheism, but upon “those of his ilk,” so I’d been rounded up and was contemplating a morning hanging, until I woke up on yet another Sunday in America.

    With my new lease on life, I read Amanda’s thoughtful post on pandagon.net, and soon found myself reading a mostly positive review of Religulous over at firedoglake.com. I responded with post number four (I’m residualecho). The blog owner replied to my post, then shut off comments. I guess that showed me!

    Was it my mouthwash, or my underarm deodorant?


  34. Ryan says

    I agree with #36 that box office receipts aren’t the best judge f quality for movies like this, but I think that given all the advertising and the fact that much of the revenue for Expelled actually came *from* Expelled (in inducements to take kids/classes/church groups to go).

  35. Dave M says

    I just got home from seeing Religulous with my brother, we laughed quite a lot throughout. The theater wasn’t packed but there was good attendance for 7:45pm on a Sunday. Lots of laughter from the whole audience, one guy stood up and clapped at the end. I don’t see the point of that since the filmmakers weren’t present, but whatever.

    Go see it if you can, it’s quite entertaining.

  36. says

    I just saw it today with a group of friends. The house was packed – some people were even sitting in the aisles. There were outbreaks of genuine laughter throughout, and applause broke out during and at the end of the screening. No one walked out.

    Just to give some contrast, I had also gone to see Expelled during its opening weekend and there were maybe a total of 25 people there for that one. Some people left, narrowing it down to less than 20 staying through to the end.

    Expelled, with all it’s free screenings, lawsuits, and empty auditoriums, had to have lost money. I suspect that Religulous is going to blow it away in box office receipts.

  37. says

    Saw it here in Edmonton, AB. Laughed my ass off, almost as much as i did in “Expelled” (though for obviously different reasons). I do wish he would have been able to get some actual comments from people on scientology, he glazed over it a little (maybe he’s afraid of Tom). And i agree about how creepy Ken Ham was with his gut and bad beard. He looked like he would rip your throat out if you took the saddle off of the triceratops.

  38. Tony Popple says

    I actually paid to see the movie twice yesterday.

    First, I went for an early show at the Landmark Theater in Edina, Minnesota. Fifteen minutes before the show was suppose to start, the power when out. I took a cancellation pass and made a mad dash to the only other theater in the area that featured it.

    I really enjoyed the film. The only criticism I would offer is that the ending could have been done better. I think he over-played the drama on his final statement. I wouldn’t say that it was out of line with the movie, but there wasn’t anything funny about it. He underscores a real point of anxiety for rationalists.

  39. says

    I’m excited about the movie, but kinda bummed that Bill is a mediocre skeptic. Believing in astrology, being anti-vaccines and thinking milk is poisonous are all absurd. I almost feel like those Xians parading a recent convert (ala Gary Busey) only to see him curse out naysayers in the name of Jesus. Someone needs to take Bill and teach him the finer points of critical thinking before people start parading his wacky beliefs to everyone.

  40. paulfcd says

    I doubt I will watch this movie in the theater. Maybe on DVD.
    So he’s still atheist or agnostic or whatever, and made a movie…

    More importantly, is he still anti-vaccine? It would be more interesting if he still is a pseudoscience retard.

  41. Pierce R. Butler says

    George @ # 17: Ditzy NOW President Shelly Mandel Endorses Sarah Palin…

    Mandel does not preside over NOW, just the Los Angeles chapter (and that for not too much longer, I’d bet).

  42. says

    George @ 17: I clicked through to the link and I may vomit.

    No, seriously. I read the blog post and felt queasy, but the comments are triggering my gag reflex. I mean, I knew these people existed, but goddamn. Are they seriously that hateful and delusional?

    Religulous isn’t playing anywhere near my (college) town, unfortunately. It is in several theaters in the city I call home, though, so I may catch it over fall break.

  43. Jadehawk says

    chances of “Religulous” playing withing driving distance: virtually nonexistent


  44. andyo says

    Another similarity is that some religious folks are accusing Maher and Charles of the same interview tactics as the Expelled folks: telling interviewees that they were being interviewed for a movie with a different title (“A Spiritual Journey”, in this case), not mentioning Maher’s name at any point, and in fact having him show up only after the cameras started rolling, so that if the interviewee wanted to back out, they’d have it on film.

    IMDB does list “A Spiritual Journey” as a working title for the film, but for the rest, the only source seems to be an LA Times blog post.

    Maher said himself this in this interview (in part 2).

    There are differences though. Maher himself ultimately did the interviews, they didn’t quote and cut the interviews out of context (as far as we know), and they didn’t flat-out lied about the purpose of the movie (though admittedly the working title was a misdirection).

  45. Your Mighty Overload says

    J-man at 33

    Friends will stick by you, even if they don’t agree. If people get hacked off that you find their religion silly, it’s up to them to do one off three things; either they can show you logically why it makes sense, they can cut you out of their lives, or they can take a long critical look at their own beliefs. A useful tactic, which I saw on the great documentary The God who wasn’t there is to ask people about the early church, immediately after Christ’s death, what happened. I bet not a single one knows. Ask them when the Gospels were written – most won’t know it wasn’t until 40 – 100 years after Jesus’s death. Ask them if they know who Saul of Tarsus is. He, of course, is now known as Paul, the founder of the church, who knew nothing of Jesus life, and didn’t believe Jesus was actually a real person. Ask them what happened to the gospel of Judas, and whether they know that Jesus apparently asked Judas to betray him.

  46. clinteas says

    Kel and Wowbagger,

    This,from No 12 :

    //I know there would be a torrent of visitors if it showed here. (subtle huh?)//

    should solve the screening in Australia problem very soon.

  47. John A Anderson says

    Please edit this post. Learn the difference between its and it’s. You got it wrong. No big deal, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll get nailed for. Just trying to help.

    Remember, when you write it’s, you’re writing it is.

    You needn’t publish this, obviously.

  48. Hank Fox says

    I saw it tonight.

    Funny, disturbing, and in the end, depressing that so many of the people he interviews are so … so religious.

    But he does come out and say we’re doomed if we don’t give it up.

    It’s showing at two theaters in the area, and there were only about 10 people there at the 10 p.m. show to see it.

  49. says

    //I know there would be a torrent of visitors if it showed here. (subtle huh?)//

    should solve the screening in Australia problem very soon.

    hehe, cool.

  50. Your Mighty Overload says

    Many people here have compared Mahar’s tactics of getting interviews with Stein and co.’s techniques in Excreted. For sure there are some similarities but, I believe, there are fundamentally good reasons why it is acceptable for Mahar, but not for Stein. First, we have to consider the movie itself. Stein’s movie is based with a lie at its core, and the producers etc obviously know this. This is the reason that they required to use deception in order to gain access to people who would not have agreed otherwise. Mahar’s movie, conversely and importantly, wouldn’t work if it were based on a lie. Mahar has to base his movie around honesty – I haven’t seen it, yet people seem to generally agree that there doesn’t appear to be “gotcha” editing, as there was in Stein’s effort.

    Second, let’s consider the people involved. If Meyers or Dawkins was approached by a film company to produce a documentary movie which was going to be a critical yet honest discussion of evolutionary biology, I am pretty sure both of them would have been willing to take part. Evolution is a theory that has to stand or fall on its merits, like all theories. Happily, it can take whatever comes at it, basically because it is right. Mahar, on the other hand, had to secure interviews with people who don’t want their beliefs or their activities critically evaluated. Dawkins somehow managed to get an interview in Root of all evil with Ted Haggard, and look how that ended for Haggard. These people don’t want us to look independently at their beliefs, or to use the filters of logic.

    Stein and Mahar both lied to gain interviews, for sure. The difference is that Stein had no intention of using that material in an honest way – if he had, he wouldn’t have had to lie. Mahar wanted to use the material honestly, and the only way he would be allowed to get the footage was to lie.

  51. says

    Stein and Mahar both lied to gain interviews, for sure. The difference is that Stein had no intention of using that material in an honest way – if he had, he wouldn’t have had to lie. Mahar wanted to use the material honestly, and the only way he would be allowed to get the footage was to lie.

    What a brainfuck! :P

  52. says

    Sven DiMilo (#58):

    For an opposing frame, see Nisbet’s House of Hairdos.

    What, has he seen the movie yet? If the Marquis de Coiffure is just bloviating about the box-office take, then it’s hardly worth bothering about, is it?

  53. clinteas says

    @ 62 :

    Who is this Mahar dude you refer to? Dont think ive heard of him,or this Meyers chap you mention.

  54. Sven DiMilo says

    it’s hardly worth bothering about, is it?

    No, no, I quite agree. The Marquis is quite predictable, tiresome, and beneath bothering about.

    (Except that PZ’s also bloviating about the box-office take without having seen the movie yet. And by commenting in the thread here, I think I can reasonably be accused of already bothering about it, in some sense. But now, off to bed.)

  55. Quincy says

    Mandel does not preside over NOW, just the Los Angeles chapter (and that for not too much longer, I’d bet).

    You are probably correct. NOW is one of those types of organizations that cannot continue to exist if its members suddenly start exhibiting free and independent thought.

  56. Your Mighty Overload says

    Clinteas at 65;

    Sure sure, of course I meant Maher and Myers. Feel better now?

    Still, it does beg the question if is this really the most you can contribute to the conversation? While I made two name typos – I don’t think there are any others – they did not, I feel, distract from the meaning of the post, nor the logic of the argument. Quibbling about spelling errors where they do not affect the readers ability to understand the argument is little more than an ad hominen attack.

  57. Your Mighty Overload says

    Kel at 64;

    I’m not sure if it really is a brainfuck, I just think it is important to bear the motivations of all the interested parties in mind.

    If a company wanted to make an honest movie about evolution, they would have no problem getting Myers or, well, probably any evolutionary biologist to speak to them.

    If one wants to make an honest movie about religion, it would appear to be very difficult to get people to speak honestly and frankly on camera. It’s just too easy to hang yourself on the basis of frankly idiotic beliefs.

    A – “You believe a virgin gave birth to a baby?”
    B – “Yeah”
    A – “Any evidence it is physically possible?”
    B – “No”
    A – “But you still believe it?”
    B – “Yeah”
    A – “You on acid, son?”

  58. clinteas says

    YMO @ 70,

    If you have followed this blog for a while,you should know that spelling errors are the usual hallmark of creationist incoherent rants,and the regulars here automatically pick up on it.

    //Quibbling about spelling errors where they do not affect the readers ability to understand the argument is little more than an ad hominen attack.//

    You might want to go check the definition of an ad homineM fallacy,since youre using(and spelling) it wrongly.

    //Stein and Mahar both lied to gain interviews, for sure.//

    Evidence that Maher lied to get any interview please?

  59. says

    I can’t seem to find any info of if or when this film will be released outside the UK – I don’rt suppose anyone here knows, do they ??


  60. says

    YMO @#62, #64,

    No, sorry, I don’t buy it. What you have written is exactly the mirror image of what I would expect a cdesign proponentsist to say to defend Expelled vs. Religulous.

    If we assume, as you seem to, that both film-makers misled their interviewees, defend their deceit on the basis that is serves a “greater truth”, and concede that the interviews could not have been obtained had the prospective interviewees known the true nature of the film being made, then the only difference, as far as the narrow point of the particular “deceiving interviewees” behaviour of the two film-makers is concerned, is in the “greater truth” that is purported to be served. If we are to be fair, they must both be convicted or acquitted together unless we can show that Stein, in mens rea, knew that the “greater truth” he purported to serve was false while Maher did not.

    I love to see religion ridiculed, and I hate to see blatant anti-science lies, but on this narrow point, I don’t think we can have our cake and eat it.

    Where we may be able to convict Stein but not Maher is on the distinct issue of misrepresentation of the interviewees. Dawkins, for example, was grossly misrepresented in Expelled, but I don’t see why Maher would need to misrepresent anyone in Religulous, since it is premised on ridiculing what people actually believe, rather than misrepresenting their beliefs in order to ridicule them. I don’t see how editing could make believing in magic donkeys, talking snakes, and cosmic Levantine zombies any more ridiculous than it already is.

  61. MH says

    Religulous is doing better than Expelled?? I’m sure in the strange world of Nisbet and Mooney that makes it a flop.

  62. clinteas says


    YMO has shown himself to be a bit shaky in the fallacies department already tonite…..

  63. says

    For the record; No one lied to me to get the interview with me. I was told who would do the interview and I was also told that the documentary was going to be critical of religion.

    One thing Bill Maher and Larry Charles didn’t realize though and that’s the reason why I founded that MJ church. The resaon I founded that church is to confront the christian powers-that-be about their hypocricy.

    Allow me to explain. Acording to international laws (art 18 UDHM) every person on earth is allowed to believe – and – practise their own form of religion. However, all people who use entheogens (mushrooms, weed, pyote, etc.) in their practises to enter the spiritual realm (based in their own minds) are percecuted by laws designed by mostly christian politicians, while those same christian politicians made an exemption for their own drug-of-choice, alcohol, for “sacramental use”, look up the Volstead act and you will find this exemption in the first written lines of the alcohol prohibition law enacted in 1919.

    Apparently those christians do not want people to use other drugs than they do as a so called “sacrament” while they ignore the fact that this is actually protected by laws they designed to protect their own practises. The use of entheogens in “spiritual rituals” pre-dates the Abrahamic based religions and is wel documented by anthropologists during the ages, the hypocricy of christians to protect their own drug use while persecuting the drug use of other cultures is what I expose by demanding the same rights for weed users. Maher missed that I guess, while he didn’t miss the acronym; F(irst)U(niversal)C(hurch)(of)K(antheism) (FUCK). He never asked me WHY I founded this church and he also never asked me why an Atheist like me would be busy with a church. I tell you why; I’m a anti drug war activist and this is only one of the many angles that can be used to point out the insanity of this war.

  64. Alarmist says

    #72: Evidence that Maher lied to get any interview please?

    He admits it.

    “So why, in heaven’s name, would Christian, Muslim and Jewish figures all over the globe – not to mention the big-bellied believers at the Truck Stop Ministries in Raleigh, N.C. – willingly go on camera for a mocking film whose title is a mesh of ‘religion’ and ‘ridiculous?’

    “‘We lied,’ Maher fessed up to his, er, sin.”


    I didn’t bother to see Expelled so I can’t compare them, but I thought Religulous was mostly funny and clever. I was very disappointed that (1) Maher falls for the Freke & Gandy nonsense, but for somebody who rejects so much science it shouldn’t be surprising I guess; (2) his premises (religion is ridiculous) didn’t support his conclusion (religion is evil and must die); and (3) despite claiming to be advocating rationality, his final appeal was pure over-the-top emotionalism, mushroom clouds included.

  65. Reginald Selkirk says

    I saw Religulous on opening night. As a piece of film-making, it’s not so great. Do you recall the criticism Dawkins made of Expelled! – “Lord Privy Seal”? There’s a lot of that in Religulous as well. There’s some bad scholarship as well. To counter an “ex-gay” minister and counselor who cliams that homosexuality is sin rather than an innate trait, Maher flashes to a brief excerpt of an interview with Dean Hamer, and his claim to have discovered a “gay gene.”

    However, the film as a whole is amusing and entertaining, mostly due to the diverse collection of religious wackos Maher interviewed.

  66. Your Mighty Overload says

    Clinteas at 72

    “If you have followed this blog for a while,you should know that spelling errors are the usual hallmark of creationist incoherent rants,and the regulars here automatically pick up on it.”

    Funny, I thought the hallmark of creationists was talking about God. The fact that creationists often commit spelling and grammatical errors, whilst common, is no more symptomatic of creationists than it is of dyslexics.

    Ad hominem attacks are literally attacking the individual, rather than the argument. By attacking my spelling, rather than addressing my argument, you are attempting to undermine the basis of my argument.

    Funnily enough, while claiming you didn’t ad hom attack me, you then proceeded to do the same thing at 78.

  67. Your Mighty Overload says

    Emmett at 75

    It would seem rather counter-intuitive that someone could make a movie decrying the evils of something, unless they knew what they were talking about. Expelled was a piece of propaganda, and they self-evidently knew enough to be able to make it. That clearly suggests that they must have known they were telling lies – if Dawkins could spot during the interview what they were doing, the producers surely knew.

  68. Your Mighty Overload says

    MH at 77

    Interesting, but a little pedantic. Wiki itself recognizes the parlance I was using it in. (it does mention that my usage is disparaged, however)

  69. Ouchimoo says

    #81 Yeah, that editing technique was abundant in Religulous. It is one of the reasons I didn’t like it as much. They were cutting to so many different camera angels, and other clips even through the middle of conversations, how could you not think that some of that was edited just for reaction. I mean people had this great look on their faces when Maher pointed out something to them, but then again I had a hard time believing it which makes it a lot less funny.
    Though I must say the huge crowd that was there had me giddy. I was sitting in the middle of two people who had gone alone. Both of them were just groaning at the introduction to certain people or things, ex Creation Museum and I still thought it was funny when 1/3 of the theater churned and grumbled when McCain took the spotlight. Hah makes me wonder if they had planned on voting for him. :|
    I wish I had more gall to talk to some of the people in the theater afterwards.

  70. Leukocyte says

    @35 – It’s playing within a less-than-10 minute walk of my apartment… In Atlanta… In the Bible Belt. What now Madison? (But I only kid, Madison is a fantastic place).

    I’ll be driving up the movie’s second-weekend sales when I finally get a chance to walk over there and see it.

  71. Jay Hovah says

    It was pretty funny…although you get annoyed with Bill a couple of times for being a dumbass.

  72. Mobius says

    I think there is a “built-in base” for this movie – consisting of atheists and agnostics – but it is far smaller than the evangelical/fundamentalist base for “Expelled”.

  73. llewelly says

    Dawkins somehow managed to get an interview in Root of all evil with Ted Haggard, and look how that ended for Haggard.

    Yeah. He caught Teh Gay, and he started using drugs and prostitutes. That interview ruined his life.

  74. says

    I saw it on Saturday out here in Atlanta. Surprisingly the theater’s reaction was very positive. I never noticed anyone booing at the screen or walking out of the film. Plus the theater I went to was about 3/4 full for the 2:45 showing. I think this movie is going to do quite well.

  75. says

    I saw it Friday night, and I laughed through the entire movie. The only thing that bothers me about Maher is his stand as an agnostic.

    One thing to remember about this movie (as well as any other documentaries), is that editing is a beautiful thing. After conducting interviews that last 10-60 minutes, it’s very easy to juxtapose scenes any way you want them.

  76. says

    I don’t plan to see the movie, myself. I don’t need convincing of how wacko these people are, and I don’t really care to pay money to see Bill Maher smirking for that long.

  77. Julie Stahlhut says

    PZ wrote: I don’t think Bill Maher would throw me out of the theater if he spotted me in line, though. Or maybe he would — it was such great PR for Mark Mathis and company, wasn’t it?

    More to the point, I don’t think Bill Maher would throw anyone out of the theater. Not PZ, not Richard Dawkins, not Ben Stein, not Ken Ham. What would be the point? The expulsion of PZ from “Expelled” reminded me of the occasion, maybe 10 or 12 years ago, when some large corporation (I don’t remember which) got one of them there new-fangled Web page thingies — and then threatened to sue other Web users who linked to their page without first receiving written permission. When someone does something that stupid, on at least some level you have to laugh.

    As for Religulous: A masterpiece of filmmaking it isn’t, but seeing it was still a fun thing to do on a Friday night. And the fact that there were maybe 70 or 80 people in the theater, all apparently enjoying it, was a lift in and of itself.

  78. ggab says

    Can we arrange to have you kicked out of a theater by Bill Maher?
    That would be fantastic?
    We can get Bill to wear a theater security uniform.

  79. ggab says

    Box Office Mojo has Religulous ranked 10th for the weekend, but when they take the total and divide it by the number of theaters it was shown in, it comes in second.
    I think that’s amazing.
    I wonder if there was some arm(or is it soul)twisting involved in the low number of theaters that showed it.
    I know there were some campaigns in that area, but don’t know how effective they were.

  80. says

    It isn’t even playing here in Dumbfuckistan (Wichita, KS).

    Not sure how or when I’m going to catch it, but hopefully, I won’t have to wait for the DVD.

  81. Tulse says

    If we play the same game that Nisbet played with Expelled, we see that it had the third-highest opening weekend ever for a documentary, and the second-highest per-screen opening (and yes, it beat out Expelled.

    In terms of “Christian” films, Religuous‘s per-screen take was only behind that of Passion of the Christ and the two Narnia films, major blockbusters by any standard.

    And all of this with a built-in audience that is perhaps 10% of the US population, compared against the 75% or so who call themselves Christian, and 25% or so who call themselves evangelical Christian. And done without a massive effort of handing out freebies to organizations, or arranging special screenings, or running a huge ad blitz.

  82. says

    I saw it on Friday at Angelika in NYC and the crowd was pretty good. I’d say about 85% of the seats were filled. Perhaps a bit more, but that’s probably about right. Drop by the old blog if you want to know what I thought about it.

  83. LightningRose says

    I saw “Religulous” on Friday night with another pharyngulilte. The theatre was sold out but this was in heathenistic Boulder, CO.

  84. Reginald Selkirk says

    I don’t know quite who came out worst. I think it was a tie between Ken Ham and the Mormons.

    Lots of people came out looking deservedly bad. I was pleased to see Francis Collins looking rather stupid, claiming there is evidence for Christianity, and that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts. The prosperity gospel preacher with the $2K suit and expensive jewelry looked very bad, especially because he didn’t seem familiar with the content of the Bible. The rabbi who is a Holocaust denier looked bad. The islamic rapper who demands tolerance for his views, but wouldn’t grant the same to Salman Rushdie looked very bad.

  85. Justify says

    Hey PZ, fact check!

    While some IDiot websites (e.g., Uncommon Descent) reported that Expelled took in $3.7 million its opening weekend, they’re simply doing what they do best: lying. According to boxofficemojo.com (“the most comprehensive box office database on the Internet”), it only took in $2,970,848. That’s the only domestic revenue figure I can find with a source. The other numbers (like $3.7, or I’ve also seen $3.2 million) seem to just be made up. Religulous, however, did rake in a verifiable $3.5 million.

  86. Der Bruno Stroszek says

    I think we’re all missing the big news story here – some of us (including myself) have had comments approved on this issue over at Great Hair Online! He’s slacking, has to be…

  87. Tulse says

    some of us (including myself) have had comments approved on this issue over at Great Hair Online!

    I will give Nisbet credit for approving comments that are quite critical of his position. Of course, that is “credit” for essentially not practicing excessive censorship…

  88. UTKid says

    It was one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Period. And it makes awesome points and had a message that, yes I am a biased militant atheist, agree with. Of course, I went with friends who weren’t atheist or militant and they thought it was just as funny as I did.

  89. says

    I’m not sure if it really is a brainfuck, I just think it is important to bear the motivations of all the interested parties in mind.

    I agree, I used the ‘:P’ to show I was joking around.

    I find it funny that complaints of that nature are coming out when they dismissed those same exact complaints for Expelled.

  90. me says

    I cant believe people are deciding on a movie’s credibility based on box office sales.

    that shows the mental capacity of people.

    if anything is proven by history – good movies fail, good artists go generally unknown.. and the truth is everywhere.. people dont care to see it, theyd rather see an action movie – or a poorly done comedy like Religulous.

    Religulous is garbarge, but its not good enough garbage to make it to the top of the trash heap.. just second rate garbage.. so that means it will beat Expelled. You all should be hoping your movie against religion fails to even get noticed.. that would go further to show its value.. because anything of value in this world is overlooked.

    Which is why im sure Expelled will fail, that in itself shows its worth. Common sense is very rare.

  91. Paul W. says

    After 2 weeks and a third weekend in wide release, Religulous has done 9 million gross, with revenues dropping about a third per week. (Which is not bad.)

    If it keeps that up, it’ll do another 4 million or so, making it the 7th or 8th top grossing documentary, ahead of Hoop Dreams, Super Size Me, and maybe Winged Migration. It’ll still be a few million behind Madonna: Truth or Dare. If it doesn’t keep that up, it’ll be 9th or 10th.

    (That’s after adjusting for inflation, and excluding big screen IMAX-type movies.)

    If Religulous had been put in the Political Documentary category, like Expelled, it would already be number 5, ahead of Expelled and Roger and Me, but nowhere close to number 4. (Bowling for Columbine, with over 20 million gross.)

    Not bad!

    (It’s also doing better than An American Carol despite showing on a third as many screens.)