Dinesh D'Souza film blasts Democratic presidential nominee and her party on eve of nomination
The Democratic National Convention is off to a rocky start, with restive Bernie Sanders backers making their voices heard, and the impending resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz over an email scandal.
The news for Hillary Clinton didn't get any better at the box office, where a new documentary attacking her found an apparently enthusiastic audience.
Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, directed by Dinesh D'Souza and Bruce Schooley, earned just shy of $4 million in theaters this weekend, far and away the most for any documentary in release, according to audience measurement firm Rentrak.
Hillary's America played at 1,217 locations for a per screen average of $3,258, Rentrak reported. That was an expansion from only three screens the previous week. The added venues coming between the end of the Republican National Convention and just before the start of the DNC proved a successful strategy for the documentary, the third by D'Souza. He is a conservative writer and pundit and convicted felon, having pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations in 2014.
The success of the documentary pushed A Beautiful Planet to second place among documentaries. It made $170,293 over the weekend to increase its 13 week total to 4,128,056.
Hillary's America has made $4,056,170 in just two weeks of release. Its weekend total of nearly $4 mil. was the best single weekend of any documentary this year.
The film delves into Democratic Party history going back to Andrew Jackson, labeling the party a standard-bearer for racism and crimes against Native Americans. This ignores ideological shifts in both the Democratic and Republican parties over time [consider that during Lincoln's time the Republicans championed federal spending on infrastructure and other projects, while Democrats were the party of fiscal conservatism]. D'Souza also neglects to note that most of the conservative Democrats who blocked civil rights legislation in the 1950's and 60's later decamped to the Republican Party, as anticipated by President Nixon's "Southern Strategy."
Conservative viewers may have enjoyed the film, but most critics have savaged it. Hillary's America rates only 5-percent at rottentomatoes.com, which aggregates reviews [according to the website 83-percent of moviegoers liked the documentary]. Here is a sampling of some reviews:
[D'Souza's] latest polemic doesn’t even qualify as effectively executed propaganda... an amateurishly slapped-together rehash.
D’Souza and co-director Bruce Schooley use reenactments to offer distorted accounts of everything from D’Souza’s legal troubles to dramatic episodes from American history... D’Souza may wish to tilt the election, but he’ll be lucky if his fans can make it through his film without falling asleep.
D'Souza and co-director Bruce Schooley fumble to make their case, creating a cheesy, tedious rehash of old accusations and dubious history.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.