Lionsgate, Which Brought You Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11', Now Brings You Dinesh D'Souza's 'America'

May 8 2014, 3:30pm CDT | by

Lionsgate, Which Brought You Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11', Now Brings You Dinesh D'Souza's 'America'
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline are reporting that Lionsgate (Lions Gate Corp.) has picked up domestic distribution rights to Dinesh D’Souza’s America. D’Souza’s last project, 2016: Obama’s America, grossed $33 million in July 2012 from Rocky Mountain Pictures, which made it the second-highest grossing political documentary of all-time, behind Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. That Moore polemic earned an eye-popping $119m ten years ago, brought into theaters by none other than Lionsgate. That Lionsgate, the studio that partially made its name via the acquisition and distribution of the controversial left-leaning propaganda piece will now attempt a similar trick with an apparent conservative propaganda film is somewhat ironic. But it’s also a reminder that in a blue-state/red-state nation, the only color Hollywood cares about is green.

Back when Lionsgate was Lions Gate, they partially made a name for themselves by picking up hot-potato films like Kevin Smith’s Dogma and the aforementioned Fahrenheit 9/11. The latter’s massive success led to a mini-boom of progressive/liberal documentaries, many of them (The US Vs. John Lennon, Religious, Deliver Us From Evil, etc.) distributed by Lionsgate. One of the reasons I’ve always liked the studio is that they often do what we all claimed studios should be doing, using the profits of their pop entertainments to fund the production or distribution of smaller, more prestigious pictures or targeted demo theatrical releases. When I bought a ticket to Saw III, I was helping to fund to theatrical distribution of Akeelah and the Bee or Away From Her. When I bought a ticket to The Hunger Games, I was helping to fund the targeted theatrical release of Roadside Attractions films like Gimme Shelter.

Hollywood has again noticed the strong profits they have earned by smaller releases that target specific demographics. They noticed when Pantelion Films (aligned with Lionsgate of course) took Instructions Not Included to a record-breaking $44 million in America ($99m worldwide) by specifically offering the kind of mainstream character comedy to Hispanic moviegoers that white moviegoers take for granted. Sony successfully sold Think Like A Man in 2012 as an all-star ensemble romantic comedy that just happened to feature African-American actors to the tune of $91m in America off a $12m budget. We’ve all noticed the deluge of mainstream religious pictures that have popped up this year, as God’s Not DeadHeaven Is For Real, and Son of God have earned a combined $193m worldwide on a combined budget of $36m.

The House That Jigsaw Built is dropping this D’Souza piece in limited release on June 27th, or ten years to the weekend that they dropped Michael Moore’s anti-George W. Bush screed during the heart of Bush’s reelection campaign. Like the Moore documentary, it will go wide over July 4th weekend. I don’t know how limited the June 27th release will be, but I do know that Fahrenheit 9/11 scored $23.9 million on its opening weekend back in June 2004, breaking a record for a debut under 1,000 screens that had been held since Rocky III back in 1982 (20th Century Fox's Borat bested it with $26m on 868 screens in November 2006). I won’t presume to presume that America can pull off the same trick, but the release pattern is not a coincidence.

The America acquisition is yet another sign that Hollywood is again starting to realize, for arguably the first time since the relative DVD meltdown in the mid-2000′s, that there is real money to be made by serving famished demographics. For what it’s worth, this is not about politics. Lionsgate wasn’t motivated by liberalism to pick up Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko and they were not motivated by conservatism to distribute 2016: Obama’s America on DVD and now handle the wide theater release of America. We should remember that the same company that owns Fox News also airs The Simpsons and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Regardless of politics or creed, there is real money, potentially large profits for comparably small investments, producing and/or distributing smaller-scale pictures that target so-called “niche” audiences beyond the traditionally targeted demographic of young white males. It’s the same mindset that led Sony to distribute Heaven Is For Real or Soul Surfer, led Paramount to distribute The Kings of Comedy back in 2001, and led Lionsgate to distribute Keven Hart: Let Me Explain last 4th of July weekend. Regardless of your thoughts on Mr. D’Souza and/or his politics, a true diversification of mainstream theatrical fare is a good thing. I probably won’t see America in theaters. But as a champion of a vibrant and diverse theatrical marketplace, I’m glad it’s getting a wide release. When we see more targeted sells at more demographics, moviegoers of all walks of life win out.

There is good business to be done balancing the four-quadrant “for everyone” releases with targeted films that aren’t necessarily for everyone. Because when not every film at the multiplex is intended for everyone, you’re more likely to find something for anyone.


Don't miss ...


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Plague kills 40 in Madagascar
Antananarivo, Nov 22 (IANS) At least 40 people were killed in an outbreak of plague in Madagascar, a media report said Saturday.
Ebola could be contained by mid-2015: Ban Ki-moon
Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the spread of the deadly Ebola virus could be contained by mid-2015.
Bird flu hits third poultry farm in Netherlands
The Hague, Nov 22 (IANS) An outbreak of bird flu was detected at a third Dutch poultry farm, the country's ministry of economic affairs announced Friday.
Hollande to visit Guinea next week, focus on fighting Ebola
Paris, Nov 22 (IANS) French President Francois Hollande will visit the West African countries next week, including the Ebola-hit Guinea-Conakry Nov 28 and will focus on ways to eradicate the deadly virus, media reported Friday.

Latest from the Network

Heidi Montag wants to age gracefully
Heidi Montag plans to ''age gracefully'' after swearing off plastic surgery. The former 'The Hills' star, who famously who underwent 10 procedures, including breast implants, a nose job and chin implant, in one day in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Charlize Theron and Sean Penn party with his daughter
Charlize Theron and Sean Penn enjoyed a date night with his daughter. The couple, who recently returned from shooting their upcoming film, 'The Last Face,' in South Africa, ''were so cute'' together despite being joined...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Plague kills 40 in Madagascar
Antananarivo, Nov 22 (IANS) At least 40 people were killed in an outbreak of plague in Madagascar, a media report said Saturday. The disease may spread rapidly as fleas on the island have been found with high levels...
Read more on Business Balla
Republicans sue Obama administration over health care reforms
Washington, Nov 22 (IANS/EFE) The Republican majority in the US House of Representatives filed suit against the administration of Barack Obama over the use of executive orders to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA...
Read more on Politics Balla
Major powers, Iran racing against time for nuke deal
Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) The world's major powers and Iran are racing against time to reach a deal over Tehran's nuclear programme, with another extension of the negotiations not being the focus. White House...
Read more on Politics Balla
Ebola could be contained by mid-2015: Ban Ki-moon
Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the spread of the deadly Ebola virus could be contained by mid-2015. Ban made the observation Friday and said that the Ebola outbreak could be...
Read more on Business Balla
'Planet of the Apes ' left Andy Serkis in 'agony'
Las Vegas, Nov 22 (IANS) Actor Andy Serkis says his film "Planet of the Apes" left him in "agony". Serkis played the chimpanzee in the 2011 sci-fi movie and its sequel, 2013's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes". He...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Obama defends his immigration reform plan
Las Vegas, Nov 22 (IANS/EFE) US President Barack Obama has defended his immigration reform plans, which could protect five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Obama was welcomed in Las Vegas Friday with...
Read more on Politics Balla
Chris Hemsworth says tattoos are a pain
Chris Hemsworth says his tattoos are often ''a pain'' when he's filming. The 'Thor' star, who was crowned the Sexiest Man Alive by PEOPLE magazine earlier this week, has a few sentimental designs inked on his body, but...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Queen Latifah's show has been axed
Queen Latifah's talk show has been cancelled. The 44-year-old actress's self-titled series, 'The Queen Latifah Show,' which launched in 2013, has been axed after two seasons. The 'Dilemma' star confirmed her ''...
Read more on Celebrity Balla