TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. – We were halfway through the Tea Party Unity Rally when one of the emcees told us to go to the movies.
“My friend Dinesh D’Souza has made a wonderful film,” said a conservative radio host. “It’s called 2016: Obama’s America. It was number one at the box office on Friday!”
This was only a slight exaggeration. D’Souza’s movie, which I reviewed for Slate in July, came in sixth at the box office this weekend, but led the field in per-screen ticket sales. It’s grossed nearly $10 million, making it – already – the most successful conservative political documentary of all time. It opened in deep red metro areas first (Houston, for starters), and slowly expanded, to the point that you can chat up random conservatives in Florida and hear arguments from the movie repeated back to you. Outside the rally I talked to Marshawn Hogans, a self-employed financial advisor who was selling T-shirts he’d made: Barack Obama’s truncated “you didn’t build that” quote and the slogan “GET THEM OUT.” When I asked Hogans about Obama’s economic ideas, he immediately brought up the decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline while continuing a deal with Brazil’s Petrobras – one of the arguments in D’Souza’s movie.
“It’s got some bite,” Hogans said. “Yeah. It’s definitely got some bite.”