LOS ANGELES Hollywood may have run out of summer hits, but an anti-Obama documentary is helping to fill the gap.
Holdover movies easily topped the weekend box office again, led by Sylvester Stallones The Expendables 2 at No. 1 for the second-straight weekend with $13.5 million.
The weekends new wide releases were overshadowed by 2016: Obamas America, which expanded from limited to nationwide release and took in $6.2 million to finish at No. 8.
The documentary is a conservative critique of what the country would look like four years from now if President Barack Obama is re-elected.
Released by Rocky Mountain Pictures, Obamas America nearly matched the $6.3 million debut of the No. 7 movie, Joseph Gordon-Levitts action tale Premium Rush, a Sony release that played in more than twice as many theaters as the Obama documentary.
The weekends other new wide releases opened weakly. Dax Shepard and Kristen Bells road-chase comedy Hit & Run, released by Open Road Films, debuted at No. 10 with $4.7 million, and the Warner Bros. fright flick The Apparition opened at No. 12 with $3 million.
The weak openings are typical of late August, a dumping ground for movies without much audience appeal as the summer blockbuster season winds down and young viewers switch to back-to-school mode.
But with less competition from Hollywood releases, it also opens the door for surprise successes such as Obamas America.
Its extremely rare for a documentary to break into the top-10, but August can be a land of opportunity for smaller films, said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. Also, theres the fact that this is a very conservative film. Normally, its Michael Moore-branded documentaries, the liberal documentaries that make all the money.
Obamas America opened in a handful of theaters in mid-July and did strong business as it gradually widened to more cities. It jumped into the top-10 this weekend as it expanded into 1,091 theaters, leading all other wide releases with an average of $5,717 a cinema.
Thats a solid average, especially for a political documentary. But it pales next to the king of political documentaries, Moores George W. Bush assault Fahrenheit 9/11, which opened at No. 1 with $23.9 million in June 2004, averaging $27,558 in 868 theaters. Fahrenheit 9/11 went on to become the top-grossing documentary ever with $119.1 million domestically.
Obamas America is based on the book The Roots of Obamas Rage, written by Dinesh DSouza, who co-directed the movie with John Sullivan.
The documentary now has climbed to a $9.1 million domestic total, with prospects for strong business as the Republican National Convention unfolds over the next few days.
DSouza said Sunday that Obamas America will expand to more cities in the coming weeks and probably remain in theaters until early October, likely followed by a DVD release in the homestretch leading up to the Nov. 6 election.
Conservatives probably account for most of the documentarys audience so far, DSouza said. But as with Fahrenheit 9/11, which drew many conservatives out of curiosity, the attention Obamas America now is receiving could prompt left-leaning viewers to check it out, he said.
Whats happening is that people are really hungry for new information about Obama. There really is this sense that he remains an elusive figure, DSouza said. Then theres a second sense that the American dream is in the balance, the American dream is at stake, and that gives people a sense of anxiety about where the country is going.
Released by Lionsgate, The Expendables 2 raised its domestic total to $52.3 million after two weekends.
In limited release, IFC Films Sleepwalk with Me had a huge debut with $77,400 in a single New York City theater. Produced and co-written by Ira Glass of National Public Radios This American Life, Sleepwalk with Me stars writer-director Mike Birbiglia in a semi-autobiographical story of a stand-up comic struggling with career and romance, along with bad bouts of sleepwalking.