(NEW YORK) — It’s rare that a low-budget documentary becomes a genuine blockbuster, but conservative firebrand Dinesh D’Souza’s controversial new film, 2016: Obama’s America, is one of the hottest tickets at the box office right now.
“I’m overwhelmed,” D’Souza said. “This is my first venture into film territory.”
The film is now showing in more than 1,000 theaters, and that number is expected to double by Friday, which would put the movie’s release on par with a major Hollywood blockbuster. Last weekend, 2016 was already earning more money per screen than The Bourne Legacy and The Expendables 2 — combined. The film has grossed an estimated $10.5 million to date, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
D’Souza’s controversial screed makes the case that President Obama has a secret un-American agenda. He claims the president is desperate to fulfill the anti-colonial dreams of his late father, a man Obama barely knew, and that he is intentionally trying to diminish America’s power abroad. D’Souza makes the case that by 2016, a second Obama term would inexorably lead to an utter collapse of the United States’ economy and the rise of a United States of Islam, led by a nuclear-armed Iran.
“I think he would like to see America have a small economy, use less energy, he’d like to see money redistributed away from America, towards the rest of the world,” D’Souza told Nightline at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where delegates have been an especially receptive audience.
In the movie, D’Souza stalks his way through the president’s life story, retracing the sojourn Obama took in his bestselling memoir, Dreams From My Father, but with a totally different spin. D’Souza attempts to turn the narrative upon which Obama has built his political career against him.
Many have dismissed the film and the bestselling book upon which it is based, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, as conspiracy theory. But D’Souza insists he’s being scholarly and fair-minded.
“We hold Obama accountable for what he actually not only wrote, but actually recorded in audio books,” D’Souza said.
Traveling through Hawaii, Indonesia and Kenya, D’Souza claims that Obama’s every ambition is motivated by an effort to please his radical father, now dead.
“I’m doing Obama the credit of taking him seriously as a thinker and as someone who is a man of ideas,” D’Souza told Nightline. “There [are] a lot of people who say about Obama, he’s a fool, he’s a bungler, he’s an amateur. I say no. I say he’s not getting results opposite to what he intends. He intends the results he’s getting.”
D’Souza journeys to Kenya to interview Obama’s half-brother George, a man Obama met just twice, several years ago.
“He looks like Obama. He talks like Obama. He has some of Obama’s street smartness and native intelligence,” D’Souza said.
But George Obama is no left wing radical. To the contrary, he tells D’Souza that colonial imperialism actually helped Kenya’s economic development. D’Souza insists the president has turned his back on his brother as a result.
Perhaps surprisingly D’Souza rejects the birther controversy — stating matter-of-factly that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. Instead, he pursues a line of argument that many say is even more outlandish and speculative: that the leader of the Free World is some sort of agent of foreign interests.
The filmmaker stops short of calling Obama a Manchurian candidate. “A Manchurian candidate implies that someone else is manipulating him,” D’Souza said. “I say he is manipulating them. He is manipulating the whole country that, ‘I, Obama, have a different agenda than even most Democrats.”
Ironically, the film was produced by a close associate of one of the President’s most ardent supporters in Hollywood. Oscar winner Gerry Molen, who also produced Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, Minority Report and Schindler’s List, produced 2016. Molen said he didn’t know what Spielberg thought of his latest project.
“I’m sure he’s aware of it like most everybody in the country,” he said.
This weekend, 2016 is on track to surpass Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth in total box office revenue, putting it right behind the highest-grossing documentary of all time, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.
D’Souza joked he is a little uncomfortable with the comparison.
“To me Michael Moore is a bit like the federal government — he’s big, fat and out of control,” he said, laughing. “I’m a little more like the private sector, lean and nimble.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN