(Deadline) – The anti-Obama movie 2016 Obamaâ€™s America went into wider release around America today and is opening right now in first place at the domestic box office. Thatâ€™s quite a feat since the Rocky Mountain Pictures political documentary is still playing in only 1,090 North American theaters â€“ or about 1/3 as many theaters as big-budget actioner The Expendables 2 (3,355 theaters). But these political documentaries like faith-based films are frontloaded. The Stallone picture from Millenium/Lionsgate is still expected to end the weekend #1 and should top the box office tonight. And, based on matinee trends, 2016 Obamaâ€™s America looks to gross $1.2M-$1.7M Friday for a $3.7M-$5.0M weekend. But right now it has grossed $700,000 today compared to $300,000 for The Expendables 2. Its new cume after this weekend could make it the #1 conservative documentary (ahead of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowedâ€™s $7.7M). The success of the anti-Obama pic is based on big pre-sales leading into the Republican National Convention August 27-30, and exhibitors are reporting busloads of filmgoers arriving at theaters around the country in pre-organized trips. It also employed much of the same marketing techniques used to garner attention and support for faith-based films, understandable since the audience is overlapping. Its campaign included advertising nationally over the past two weeks on talk radio and cable news channels including Fox News Channel, A&E, History and MSNBC.
Both online ticket-sellers Fandango and MovieTickets.com showed advance buying for 2016 Obamaâ€™s America were accounting for 35% to 28% respectively before this weekend. The pic is based on conservative author and commentator Dinesh Dâ€™Souzaâ€™s New York Times bestselling 2010 book The Roots Of Obamaâ€™s Rage and co-directed by Dâ€™Souza and John Sullivan and produced by Academy Award winner Gerald R. Molen (co-producer of Schindlerâ€™s List). It opened on July 13th in a preview on a single screen in Texas grossing almost $32,000 during its opening weekend, then expanded into 61 theaters including New York and Los Angeles. In August, the film widened to 169 theaters nationwide and expanded again this weekend. â€œYes, I also didnâ€™t believe it when I first saw the film taking off in pre-sales on Tuesday,â€ an exhibition insider tells me. â€œBecause thereâ€™s not a lot of new product thatâ€™s taking off.â€
In fact this is one of Summer 2012â€²s weakest movie weekends with holdovers like Universalâ€™s The Bourne Legacy and Warner Brosâ€™ The Dark Knight Rises expected to rank right behind like The Expendables 2 and well ahead of the new films. But none may even break $10M. Hollywood distribution experts expect 2016 Obamaâ€™s America to fare similarly to that Kirk Cameron faith-based movie Fireproof. It was #1 in Fandangoâ€™s advance sales and did remarkably well during its opening Friday â€“ but then ended up somewhere around #4 at the box office for the weekend.
Among other new movies, Friday and weekend estimates are as follows: Sonyâ€™s Premium Rush $2.0-$2.5M Friday and $5.5M-$7.0M weekend, Open Roadâ€™s Hit And Run (which opened Wednesday) $1.3M-$1.8M Friday and $3.6M-$5.0M weekend for a $4.6M-$6.0M cume, and Warner Brosâ€™ The Apparition $400K-$700K Friday for a $1M-$1.7M weekend.
Last weekend, 2016: Obamaâ€™s America grossed a strong $1.2M last weekend in 169 venues for a cumulative gross as of Thursday of $2.8M. Itâ€™s the #2 biggest indie documenatry of the year behind only The Weinstein Companyâ€™s Bully ($3.2 million) and already the #12 political documentary of all time. It will rise a lot higher in the rankings after this weekend.
2016 Obamaâ€™s America detractors decry it as a slick infomercial heavy with conspiracy theories. But Dâ€™Souza says he made the film to motivate moviegoers to question what an Obama second term would look like, and credits liberal documentary maker Michael Moore for the structure of the film: â€œWhen he released Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 ahead of the election, it sparked intense debate. I learned some lessons from Michael Moore, and hopefully he might learn some lessons from me about handling facts.â€