LOS ANGELES – While it hasn’t yet reached the lofty level of 2004’s Fahrenheit 9/11 at the box office, 2016: Obama’s America has become the hottest political documentary of the year.
And it comes from Hollywood’s conservative corner, a spot usually reserved for faith-based movies.
Produced by Dinesh D’Souza, who wrote the book on which the film is based, 2016 cracked the top 10 for the third straight week — rare for a documentary, let alone a political one.
But the film’s message — that the Obama administration would run amok if re-elected — has found a larger audience than analysts expected.
The film opened on one screen — a theater in Houston ordered the movie from small production house Rocky Mountain Pictures — when it premiered July 13.
But 2016 earned $31,000 that weekend, prompting distributors to expand the movie to 10 theaters Aug. 3.
Today, it’s playing on more than 2,000 screens and has collected $26.1 million, the sixth-highest-grossing documentary of all time, says Hollywood.com.
“The conservatives (found) their Michael Moore,” says John Hamann of Boxofficeprophets.com, referring to the controversial director of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Capitalism: A Love Story.
That includes some of Moore’s divisiveness. The film has sparked debate among bloggers and critics over whether 2016 is a documentary or a political screed.
The movie “is a work of propaganda that offers base innuendo in lieu of argument,” writes Richard Brody of The New Yorker column The Front Row. “It’s the kind of personal production that calls into question the very virtue of sincerity.”
Others say the movie — and its director — will mark a sea change for the industry.
“Republicans often bemoan the fact that they don’t have Hollywood celebrities on their side,” writes Dave Berg of the conservative Washington Times. “But they’ve been handed a gift. Mr. D’Souza is a legitimate rising star …
Read more: USA Today