Expanding nationwide August 24, a controversial new film, entitled 2016: Obama’s America, is already the No. 2 grossing documentary this year, raking in a remarkable $1.2 million the weekend starting August 17 for a total gross of $2 million. Upping its theater count last weekend from 61 to 169, the film is already the No. 12 grossing political documentary of all time. However, its rank is likely to climb higher as Obama’s America, which is co-directed by conservative scholar Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan — and produced by Academy Award winner Gerald Molen — will be showing in 1,075 theaters as of August 24.
Many Hollywood critics were shocked by the movie’s success at theaters such as the Regal Union Square Stadium 14 in lower Manhattan, located in a very liberal area where films like Michael Moore’s Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story have done remarkably well. Obama’s America was ranked the No. 3 film of the weekend, only behind Total Recall and The Dark Night, at Union Square, prompting some people to joke that moviegoers must have mistaken the film for a pro-Obama documentary.
"I think the reason why the film is doing so well is threefold — we've expanded into good markets, we've been advertising nationally for two weeks on talk radio and television news channels including Fox News Channel, A&E, the History Channel and MSNBC," Sullivan told The Hollywood Reporter.
Based largely on his acclaimed 2010 book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, D’Souza hones in on the president’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father, presenting a theory that Obama’s political ideology stems from his past experiences and his father’s “anticolonial” values. Moreover, the documentary illustrates a damning picture of a second Obama presidency, posing the question, “If Obama wins a second term, where will we be in 2016?” The official synopsis reads, in part:
Immersed in exotic locales across four continents, best selling author Dinesh D'Souza races against time to find answers to Obama's past and reveal where America will be in 2016. During this journey he discovers how hope and change became radically misunderstood, and identifies new flashpoints for hot wars in mankind's greatest struggle. The journey moves quickly over the arc of the old colonial empires into America's empire of liberty, and we see the unfolding realignment of nations and the shape of the global future.
Critical reviews have been sparse (read The New American’s review here), but some mainstream critics have offered their insight on the film. The New York Times’ Andy Webster notes how D’Souza "argues that the president has emasculated NASA, refused to take a 'meaningful step' against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and is willing to let Argentina reclaim the Falkland Islands from the British."
"Not interviewed by the filmmakers are Obama’s political supporters, but this isn’t that kind of documentary," Webster continues. "At a show on Saturday night, the film’s conclusion was met with claps and cries of 'Romney!,' 'Ron Paul!,' 'Reagan!' and 'Another Reagan!'"
David Weigel of Slate gave Obama’s America a “mostly solid” rating, underscoring how the creators did not drown the film’s narrative in conservative “conspiracy theories.” “The movie is really too good to get pedantic about,” Weigel wrote. “There are no conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth, religion, Social Security number, passport, or college transcript. Instead, there is a deep dive into Barack Obama’s known Communist associates, his late father’s avowed socialism, and his mother’s radicalism.”
More broadly, supporters of the documentary have reported instances that media outlets are trying to dampen enthusiasm about the movie — and in some cases, making it more difficult for people to find showtimes and information about the film. Yahoo! Movies, one of the largest movie listing sites on the web, does not list theaters, showtimes, or even general information about the film.
“I was interested in seeing the new movie, ‘2016: Obama's America’ so I went to Yahoo! Movies as I usually do to find the time and showing. I found that you cannot search for it on Yahoo! Movies,” asserted one irritable moviegoer. “I checked the movie's site and found out where it was opening on August 24th and so I checked those theaters for that date and it does not show up. Is it possible that Yahoo! is trying to keep people from watching this movie?”
Yahoo! deflected such criticisms. "Yahoo! only displays movies that we have received information about from distributors or representatives of films," a company spokesperson disclosed. However, reports Fox News:
The movie's distributors have yet to comment on whether or not they sent information to Yahoo!, but a source close to the film points out that if you search Yahoo! Movies for a smaller movie opening in a small number of theaters that may not be in Yahoo!'s film database, like the new movie "Compliance," which opened last weekend in a single theater, Yahoo! Movies defaults to a web search for that title, which yields multiple results. The same search for "2016" yields no search results, even though it has been widely discussed and covered online.
Co-director John Sullivan said that when typing a film’s name in Yahoo!’s movie site, generally hundreds of search results are listed, yet when searching for 2016: Obama’s America, not a single result is found. The movie’s website is pulling in nearly a million page views per day, Sullivan added, “so it’s not as though the information traffic is not out there.”
Speculation has been stirring that several other paper and online publications have neglected to publish theater locations and showtimes for the movie. The Christian Post, for instance, reported that someone in Orange County, California, grumbled in an e-mail that none of the local papers were publishing listings for the movie, despite the fact it was playing in a number of theaters.
Commenting on the debacle, Molen called the situation “disturbing and revealing.”
“Disturbing because the film has exploded on the American scene and every American with the desire should be afforded the opportunity to see it,” he suggested. “Yet forces are seemingly at work trying to stop it. Revealing because it demonstrates how far some will go to stop the flow of information they feel might be against their agenda, be it political or ideological.”
Related article: "2016: Obama's America": A Powerful Movie