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The filmmakers behind last year’s 2016: Obama’s America are working on a follow-up to what has become the second-biggest political documentary ever at the domestic box office, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who starred in, co-wrote and co-directed 2016, will return as the writer and star of a film simply titled America to be directed by John Sullivan, who wrote and directed 2016 with D’Souza.
Gerald Molen, who won a best picture Oscar for producing Schindler’s List with Steven Spielberg in 1993, will executive produce America, as he did for 2016.
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2016 shocked some industry watchers in 2012 by coming seemingly from nowhere, opening on a single screen in Houston and spreading to nearly 2,000 screens within two months, eventually earning $33.5 million on a production budget of $2.5 million. The only political documentary to outperform 2016 was Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, which made $119.2 million on a production budget of $6 million in 2004.
While 2016 was based on D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, the new film will not draw from previously known source material, and the filmmakers say America is not technically a sequel to 2016, though audiences might be inclined to view it as such.
In America, D’Souza intends to re-create some famous moments in American history and ask the question: What would the world be like if the U.S. had not existed? He likened America, in fact, to Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life, in which George Bailey learns what his town would have been like had he never lived.
“President Obama looks at America as an oppressive force,” D’Souza said, “while I and millions of others around the world have a different view: that America has been a great blessing to its own people and to the world.”
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In 2016, D’Souza travels to Nairobi to interview Obama’s half brother, George Obama, and the trek and resulting video proved a marketing bonanza for the film. For America, D’Souza, Molen and company have other tricks up their sleeves, though none they are ready to reveal.
“We intend to provide both serious answers and have some fun as we take Obama’s dreams for America to their logical conclusions,” D’Souza says.
He and his filmmaking partners formally announced America on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., which began Thursday and included presentations from Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Ann Coulter and others.
D’Souza also plans on unveiling the trailer for America at CPAC, though THR has obtained an advance copy, which is embedded below.
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While the success of 2016 cannot be disputed, it could be the exception to the rule, as filmmakers have found it difficult to generate box-office returns with political documentaries. Several conservative efforts that followed 2016 stalled. Hating Breitbart, a film about commentator Andrew Breitbart, who died in March 2012, earned only $81,000 in October, though it could eventually turn a profit, as it is being recut and re-released by FreeStyle Releasing on May 17 both theatrically and on DVD. Likewise, Occupy Unmasked, a right-wing look at the Occupy Wall Street movement, made just $53,000 when it was released in October by Mark Cuban’s Magnet Releasing, though the film also made revenue by way of VOD and DVD.
D’Souza says America should make its way into theaters by the middle of next year, an advantageous time as Americans turn their attention toward politics again due to the midterm elections, when all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs, as are 33 seats in the Senate.
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