LOS ANGELES – Hollywood may have run out of summer hits, but an anti-Obama documentary is helping to fill the gap.
Holdover movies easily topped the weekend box office again, led by Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables 2” at No. 1 for the second-straight weekend with $13.5 million.
The weekend’s new wide releases were overshadowed by “2016: Obama’s America,” which expanded from limited to nationwide release and took in $6.2 million to finish at No. 8.
The documentary is a harsh conservative critique of what the country would look like four years from now if President Barack Obama is re-elected.
Released by Rocky Mountain Pictures, “Obama’s America” nearly matched the $6.3 million debut of the No. 7 movie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s action tale “Premium Rush,” a Sony release that played in more than twice as many theaters as the Obama documentary.
The weekend’s other new wide releases opened weakly. Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell’s road-chase comedy “Hit & Run,” released by Open Road Films, debuted at No. 10 with $4.7 million, and the Warner Bros. fright flick “The Apparition” opened at No. 12 with $3 million.
The weak openings are typical of late August, a dumping ground for movies without much audience appeal as the summer blockbuster season winds down and young viewers switch to back-to-school mode.
But with less competition from Hollywood releases, it also opens the door for surprise successes.
“It’s extremely rare for a documentary to break into the top-10, but August can be a land of opportunity for smaller films,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. “Also, there’s the fact that this is a very conservative film. Normally, it’s Michael Moore-branded documentaries, the liberal documentaries that make all the money.”
“Obama’s America” opened in a handful of theaters in mid-July and did strong business as it gradually widened to more cities. It jumped into the top-10 this weekend as it expanded into 1,091 theaters, leading all other wide releases with an average of $5,717 a cinema.
That’s a solid average, especially for a political documentary. But it pales next to the king of political documentaries, Moore’s George W. Bush assault “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which opened at No. 1 with $23.9 million in June 2004, averaging $27,558 in 868 theaters. “Fahrenheit 9/11” went on to become the top-grossing documentary ever with $119.1 million domestically.
“Obama’s America” is based on the book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” written by Dinesh D’Souza, who co-directed the movie with John Sullivan.
The documentary now has climbed to a $9.1 million domestic total, with prospects for strong business as the Republican National Convention unfolds over the next few days.
By DAVID GERMAIN
AP Movie Writer