The political documentary "2016: Obama's America" continued its unexpectedly strong performance at the box office this weekend, raking in $3.2 million for a domestic total of more than $26 million. The tally comes after the movie upped its screen count from 1,800 to 2,011, helping it hold steady at No. 10 even as summer blockbusters like "The Avengers" and "Brave" slip further and further down the charts.
And if doomsday propagandist Dinesh D'Souza needed any more reason to gloat, his movie has now surpassed three political films by the liberal documentarian Michael Moore: "Sicko," "Bowling for Columbine" and "Capitalism: A Love Story," which took in $24.5 million, $21.5 million and $14.3 million, respectively. That makes "Obama's America" the second highest-grossing political documentary of all time.
However, Moore's 2004 blockbuster, "Fahrenheit 9/11," is still at the top that list, and it leads by a wide margin. A scathing appraisal of George W. Bush's first four years in office, the movie grossed more than $119 million during its domestic run, making it unlikely that "Obama's America" will overtake it before it runs its course.
D'Souza has admitted that he aspires to Moore's level of success. During an appearance on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" last week, the conservative author was asked about comparisons between his film and "Fahrenheit 9/11," to which he answered that he hoped that "Obama's America" would be as successful.
Gerald R. Molen, who produced "Obama's America," also gave props to Moore, saying he took some pointers from the director's sense of timing as well as his famously rabble-rousing style. "When he released 'Fahrenheit 9/11' in 2004 ahead of the election, it sparked intense debate," he told Fox News. "I learned some lessons from Michael Moore."
Before the runaway success of "Obama's America," Molen was known largely for his frequent collaborations with Steven Spielberg, a well-known supporter of the Democratic party. Molen in the past has described himself as conservative, although he has not been particularly outspoken about his politics. Incidentally, he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like Obama's Republican challenger and devout Mormon Mitt Romney.
Based on D'Souza's 2010 book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage," "2016: Obama's America" features on-camera interviews with various people who knew President Obama, including his impoverished half-brother, George, who lives in Kenya. The movie draws upon excerpts from Obama's 1995 memoir, "Dreams from My Father," to postulate that the president harbors rabid anti-colonialist leanings. Both the book and the film have been discredited by journalists and academics.
Despite the similar -- if oppositely aimed -- tactics of D'Souza and Moore, there is no evidence to support the idea that political documentaries wield any real influence over the outcome of an election. In 2004, Bush won by a comfortable margin over his Democratic challenger, John Kerry, despite the phenomenal popularity of Moore's film. And even as "Obama's America" is coming off of its big weekend bank, polls show Obama holding a slight lead over Romney.