'America' Filmmakers Demand to Know Why Google is Getting Their Search Results Wrong

Dinesh D'Souza 2 - P - 2014
Associated Press

The move comes on the heels of Costco allegedly removing the movie's source material, Dinesh D'Souza's book "America: Imagine a World Without Her," from its store shelves.

Lawyers representing Dinesh D’Souza’s newest film, America, have fired off a letter to Google demanding that the search engine correct problems that they say are hampering the ability of consumers to figure out where the movie is playing.

The letter claims that Google has been confusing America with 2016: Obama’s America, which was D’Souza’s first movie and has been out of theaters for two years, while Lionsgate released America on July 2 and it is currently playing in about 1,100 theaters nationwide.

Google, according to the letter, has been "misdirecting many users who mistakenly believed the film was not playing in theaters. We understand this was brought to your attention for correction five days ago, yet the problem persists."

The letter, obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, was sent Monday to Google chief legal officer David Drummond and comes from AmericaFilm LLC.

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It demands that Google disclose "whether human or automated error was the source" of the alleged mistakes and asks "what measures have been taken to fix the problem."

The letter also asks Google to supply "statistics on searches from the time the misdirection began until resolved so that we might ascertain the number of users who could not find the film as a result of this mix-up."

As of Monday night, a Google search of "America movie" yielded a strip of film posters that included two Captain America movies and several other superhero movies. There’s also an image of the poster for America, yet it is labeled 2016: Obama’s America, a surprise hit in 2012. Clicking the image takes users to a plethora of information about 2016 but very little about America.

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Meanwhile, the filmmakers and marketers have been collecting evidence of the ongoing problem via remarks on social media.

"I went to the theater schedules to find out where/when to see America in Fort Worth. All of the theaters are advertising showing 2016 instead of America. Is this a mistake? Intentional misrepresentation," wrote one potential moviegoer. "I saw your film today. Excellent film and quite compelling. Thank You! I notice a lot of the theaters list your film on their website as 2016: Obama’s America. So doing a search for America showtimes yields no results," wrote another.

The presence of the word "America" in both of D’Souza’s films had also caused earlier problems at sites like Rotten Tomatoes, Yahoo! Movies and MovieTickets.com, though they have since been rectified. Some sites also confused D’Souza’s America — a docudrama that seeks to destroy leftist arguments that denigrate the U.S. — with a 1924 silent movie or a 2009 film starring Rosie O’Donnell.

While Google did not respond to multiple requests for comment, some potential moviegoers are accusing the search company, or others, of engaging in a plot of misinformation. "This mixup is likely being coordinated by those in the film industry who hope the film fails at the box office," one wrote at the film’s Facebook page.

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Along those lines, Jerome Corsi reported on conservative outlet World Net Daily that Costco has removed from its shelves D’Souza’s recently released book, America: Imagine a World Without Her, which is the source material for the America movie. Corsi insinuates in his piece that the move was political, given that the retailer donated $100,000 to Obama and an additional $100,000 to the liberal Priorities USA PAC and Costco co-founder and director James Sinegal held an Obama fundraiser at his home in Seattle and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Corsi wrote: "Costco’s book department issued the 'pull-order,' requiring all Costco stores nationwide to remove the book, confirmed Scott Losse, an inventory control specialist in the book department at the Costco Wholesale corporate office in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb of Seattle."

Costco did not respond to a request for comment.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com