2016 Obama's America movie weekend box office: Solid, but at lower end of expectations
The Republican national convention kicks off on Monday in Tampa, Florida. Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan's right-wing documentary about U.S. president Barack Obama (photo), 2016 Obama's America, was a cinematic tie-in to the proceedings, expanding from 169 to 1,091 venues this weekend. That strategy, coupled with some savvy targeted marketing, worked. But only to a certain extent.
Although 2016 Obama's America topped advance ticket sales on Fandango for three days in a row last week and was the no. 1 movie in North America at early Friday showings, the D'Souza / Sullivan documentary ended up in the no. 4 slot after Friday evening screenings were tallied and, at least for now, is no. 8 on the Aug. 24-26 box office chart according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
2016 Obama's America movie box office: Hit or disappointment?
Because of the film's unusual per-theater-average increases following two weekend-to-weekend expansions, several box office pundits had prophesied that 2016 Obama's America would gross more than $8 million this weekend. At least one box office soothsayer raised the possibility that the anti-Obama documentary could top the domestic box office chart, i.e., outgross The Expendables 2's expected $12-13m. Needless to say, that didn't happen. Not even close. [See also: "2016 Obama's America Movie: Right-Wing Blockbuster?" "2016 Obama's America Box Office: Weekend's No.1?"]
So, does that mean 2016 Obama's America was a box office disappointment? Not at all. Though lambasted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Variety, 2016 Obama's America was widely praised by the right-wing media. Ultimately, the film succeeded in reaching its target audience. The documentary, which portrays Barack Obama as an idealistic threat to the United States, collected an estimated $6.23 million, averaging a solid – though hardly outstanding – $5,718 per site. That's less than the $7,365 per-theater take at 169 locations last weekend, but more than the $5,202 per-theater take at 61 venues two weekends ago. And that's no small feat.
Whether there's room for further expansions is debatable, as the movie, thanks to its smart wide-release timing, may have reached its box office peak. Don't be too surprised if 2016 Obama's America plummets next weekend. We'll see.
Also, bear in mind that 2016 Obama's America's position at the no. 8 slot could change once box office actuals are released on Monday. That's because the gap between the Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle Premium Rush (no. 7) and the Meryl Streep / Tommy Lee Jones romantic comedy Hope Springs (no. 9) is only $300,000, with the Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan documentary sandwiched between those two movies. D'Souza and Sullivan's film could easily move up or down one spot.
2016 Obama's America movie vs. Fahrenheit 9/11
Though hardly the movie to catch the American zeitgeist this election year (as some over-excited pundits had claimed), or the right-wing elite's cinematic equivalent to Michael Moore's epoch-making anti-George W. Bush / anti-Iraq War / anti-Britney Spears 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, 2016 Obama's America's $9.07 million cume is nothing to be sniffed at. After all, at least officially the movie cost only $2.5m. Note: even if accurate, this figure doesn't include marketing / distribution expenses, which must have been considerable as a result of the film's wide expansion and heavy-duty promotion. Also, keep in mind that, as a rule of thumb, exhibitors get about 50 percent of a movie's domestic gross.
2016 Obama's America movie savvy targeted marketing
Yesterday, Deadline.com reported that the (relative) success of 2016 Obama's America was due to "savvy marketing on the eve of the Republican National Convention August 27-30. Exhibitors are reporting busloads arriving at theaters around the country in pre-organized trips."
Deadline added that the 2016 Obama's America movie marketing team employed similar techniques to those used to plug Christian movies, "understandable since the audience is overlapping." Additionally, 2016 Obama's America was pushed nationally on talk radio and cable channels such as Fox News, MSNBC, A&E, and The History Channel. [See also "2016 Obama's America movie: 2012's #2 documentary? Wrong. #12 all-time political documentary? Wrong Again."
Barack Obama 2016 Obama's America movie image: Rocky Mountain Pictures.