Anti-Obama Docu Soars

By Robert Marich
   Sept. 2, 2012-The anti-Obama movie 2016: Obama’s America is emerging as an out-of-nowhere hit in the documentary category. The Rocky Mountain Pictures release premiered at one theater in Houston July 13 and hefty box office from a small start supported an ever-wider release in later weeks--now at 1,800 locations. While that trajectory is impressive, 2,000+ locations on opening weekend is the norm for major-studio releases.
   Box office stands at $13.1 million as of Aug. 30 and still climbing after 49 days in release. The New York Post reports the film cost just $2.5 million to make. “2016: Obama’s America has turned into quite the sleeper hit,” writes Phil Contrino of
   In general, $3 million is a hit by standards for non-nature documentaries though Michael Moore’s 2004 Iraq war critique Fahrenheit 9/11 rolled up a stratospheric $119.1 million in domestic box office. That’s the highest grossing documentary of all time, including nature docus.
    According to, 2016: Obama’s America ranked #46 nationally based on total box office for its July 13-15 weekend and climbed to #7 by the weekend of Aug. 24-26. In daily BO since then, the sleeper hit runs #2 or #3 on weekdays beating out newer releases.
   In a low-key presentation, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza builds his case in the PG-rated movie that President Obama is driven by anti-colonial and anti-wealth ideology, based on background cues. This includes Obama’s autobiography whose title Dreams From My Father supports the thesis. D’Souza weaves his own life story into the tale—he is a person of color and has an Ivy League university background, like Obama. The movie’s producer—Gerald Molen—won an Oscar for producing Schindler’s List.
   The movie is critical of Obama but does not have an angry tone. The movie’s key copy line “Love Him. Hate Him. You Don’t Know Him” attempts to rope in Obama supporters and those who are neutral by suggesting the documentary is simply revealing rather than dogmatic. So far, there are no indications this is a crossover hit drawing Obama supporters, unlike the crossover and bombastic Fahrenheit 9/11.
   Reviews are mixed with Variety’s Joe Leydon sniffing “’breathtakingly anti-America’ is only one of the epithets tossed about like so much confetti.”
   A press release from the film suggests that 2016: Obama’s America suffered early on from a lack of cinema industry support. “The stunning success of this film was not without obstacles however,” says the PR dated Aug. 26. “Earlier in the week, several media outlets reported that fans searching for the film at popular film sites found that a simple search for the film yielded no results and the film was excluded from a number of film guides published in newspapers across the country.”
   Will 2016: Obama’s America influence the election? One sign it won’t is that box office sensation Fahrenheit 9/11 hammered then-President Bush, who nonetheless won re-election.
   But that’s still an open question. 2016: Obama’s America is pulling particularly big box office in some election battleground locations—Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Virginia—according to BO tracker Rentrak.  Another anti-Obama documentary – The Hope and the Change examining regrets of Obama voters from 2008--is getting attention by pundits, though has no distributor.

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