Dinesh D'Souza film has now made over $12.5 mil.
[This article has been updated to provide additional details, plus b.o. figures for films 2-4]
Hillary Clinton is beginning the home stretch of her White House run with some unwelcome news: Dinesh D'Souza's documentary attacking her and the Democratic Party has returned to the top spot at the doc box office.
Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party had slipped to third place the previous week, its lowest ranking in the past month and a half. But over the Labor Day Weekend it added more than 300 screens, virtually guaranteeing a return to number one [the second place documentary appeared on only 13 screens, versus 404 for Hillary's America].
According to audience measurement firm Rentrak, Hillary's America has now earned $12,507,181 since it debuted just before the Republican National Convention, by far the most lucrative documentary released this year.
Critics have savaged the film [it currently enjoys a mere 4-percent approval rating on rottentomatoes.com] but conservative audiences are eating it up. Rottentomatoes.com says 83-percent of moviegoers reported liking the film.
Last week, after Nonfictionfilm.com reported Hillary's America had slipped to number three behind Werner Herzog's latest, an irritated D'Souza tweeted: "This film [Werner Herzog's Lo And Behold] is new-- ours is out for several weeks; therefore this comparison is dumb."
By the logic of his Tweet, Mr. D'Souza may not consider his film's return to number one as newsworthy, given that it has been "out for several weeks." So we beg his indulgence in reporting his good fortune, with apologies for noting it played on a vastly greater number of screens than any other nonfiction film.
D'Souza's selective use of facts seems consistent with the overall thrust of his documentary, which purports to unmask the perfidy of the Democratic Party. After all, he [correctly] points out, was not the Democratic Party the defender of state's rights in the mid-1800s, and as such the bulwark of slavery?
This is true, but any honest broker of facts would be duty bound to point out that it is the Republican Party of today that clings to discriminatory ideology under the guise of state's rights [states should be able to outlaw gay marriage; states should be free to allow businesses to discriminate based on "sincerely held" religious views, etc.].
In the 1950s and '60s it was conservative white Southerners in the Democratic Party who repeatedly blocked progress on Civil Rights. What did those conservative Southerners do after LBJ pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965? They flocked to the Republican Party and have remained there ever since, as President Nixon had envisioned with his Southern Strategy. Will you find this pointed out in D'Souza's film? Nah.
This kind of selective reading of history is evidenced in another of D'Souza's recent Tweets:
Similarly, D'Souza recently offered up this Tweet:
Naturally Harriet Tubman would have supported the Republican Party at that point in the 1800s. But it is grossly dishonest for a Republican of today -- like D'Souza -- to wrap himself in a cloak of self-righteousness as if the political labels of the 19th century are consistent with what they are today. To claim some kind of moral high ground on that basis is rank foolishness.
Which political party of today most closely mirrors Tubman's values and struggle for justice? No honest person or student of history can claim it is the Republican Party.
If D'Souza were truly a defender of civil rights, justice, anti-discrimination, the dignity of Native Americans, and a foe of the KKK -- as his film and his Tweets imply -- he would find his home not in the Republican Party but the Democratic Party. Instead, he sends out a Tweet like the one below, which is a more accurate indication of his mendacious politics:
For the record, as this is a box office report, these are the figures for films 2-4 [Rentrak did not provide information this week on films 5-10].
2. The Music of Strangers: total box office 1,133,607
3. Life, Animated: total box office $226,276
4. Starving the Beast: box office figures not reported
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.