Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016 Obama Documentary Blows Away Industry Estimates, Grossing Millions

Dinesh D’Souza felt that President Barack Obama had been telling his story to Americans for years. The conservative author wanted to give them a different version. So he worked on a documentary, “2016: Obama’s America,” that put the president in a more critical light. And apparently, there’s an audience that agrees with D’Souza’s vision.

In its first week in wider distribution, the documentary grossed an estimated $6.2 million, far exceeding industry expectations, according to independent distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures. That was virtually the same amount as the major studio action film “Premium Rush” collected – and “Obama’s America” was playing in roughly 1,100 fewer theaters.

“I realized Obama was telling his own story in his own voice and thought it would be interesting to use his voice in a documentary where it would be indisputable to people that this was Obama’s own narrative,” said D’Souza, who wrote and directed the film with John Sullivan.

The film draws heavily from D’Souza’s own life, as he describes how coming to study in America from his native India helped to shape his political ideology. Throughout the 90-minute film, he often addresses the camera face-forward, pointing out the similarities between his upbringing and Obama’s. Many of the author’s arguments about Obama’s support of anti-colonialism are drawn from D’Souza’s controversial book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” and the movie frequently uses dramatic reenactments featuring unknown actors to depict past events.

Heading into the weekend, pre-release audience surveys suggested “Obama’s America” would gross about $4 million – but by midday Friday, ticket sales were so brisk that estimates were lifted to $6 million. The movie debuted seven weeks ago here and had raked in $2.4 million as it expanded from 169 theaters to 1,091 locations this weekend. The film currently is in 12 theaters in the Houston area. In total, the film has sold $9.1 million worth of tickets.

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