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'Sicko' watch: Vital signs good despite file sharing

Exact dollar figures won't arrive until next Monday, but Sicko appears unscathed by file sharing. Another film, Evan Almighty, shows up at Google Video's U.K. site.

The official numbers aren't in yet, but reports indicate that the debut of Michael Moore's documentary on the health care industry is a smash--this despite being downloaded on file-sharing sites a week before the opening.

Sicko sold out in the 43 theaters across the country where it appeared during "sneak" previews last weekend. The film's producers, the Weinstein Company, won't reveal earnings, but in New York, the movie appeared on one theater screen and still managed to bank $70,000. By all indications, this is a blockbuster number.

I've been tracking how Moore's expose fares to gauge the effect file sharing may have on movie premieres. So far the only impact appears to be positive. The film received media attention nearly two weeks ago when copies popped up on YouTube and Google Video and were being shared by thousands online via BitTorrent files.

Nothing grabs headlines like controversy.

Some in the file-sharing ranks say they may have even helped generate early buzz about the film by spreading positive reviews across the Web. The Weinstein Company continues to condemn copyright infringement, according to a spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Evan Almighty showed up at Google Video's site in the United Kingdom, according to the National Legal and Policy Center. The clip was viewed more than 69,000 times on the site before being pulled Monday morning.