Indie Pics and Anti-Obama Doc Win Big at Box Office

By  · Published on August 27th, 2012

The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy continued to make money this weekend. In fact, the top 7 box office earners from last week all kept their spots this time around except for Sparkle which dropped to 11th place and allowed The Dark Knight Rises and Timothy Green to improve their positions. Premium Rush opened to 7th place with $6.3m on 2,255 screens ‐ resulting in a per screen average that was on par with movies that have been out for two to three weeks and lower than some new offerings.

It wasn’t an auspicious opening, but even as the top winners ossify in the August doldrums, the real winners are indie films, and at the top of the heap is 2016: Obama’s America.

Based on the book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” by Dinesh D’Souza and co-directed by D’Souza and John Sullivan, the documentary takes a look at what the country and world might be like if the President were to earn a second term. After a limited run in July, the documentary had a successful weekend with $6.2m (which you’ll note almost beat out Premium Rush), vaulting to the number 6 spot on the list of highest-grossing political docs. Even more dramatic, it’s now the highest-grossing right-leaning political doc, beating out Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (which was produced by Sullivan) for the honor. It seems possible that Obama’s America might be able to increase its position on the overall list by earning $5.3m more to overtake Capitalism: A Love Story. Depending on how the expansion is handled, and how audiences take to sharing the film with friends, it could conceivably go on to displace Bowling for Columbine ($21.5m) on that overall list.

It’s done all of this with just over a thousand theaters, giving it a stellar per theater average of just over $5,700. That’s the highest per theater average in the top ten. However, it’s not the best average of the bunch.

Indie films like Sleepwalk with Me (1 theater, $65,000 total) and Samsara (2 theaters, $73,800 total) had strong ticket sales. Compliance also had a successful expansion, seeing $48,000 from 10 theaters. Robot & Frank went from 2 theaters to 46 and picked up $291,000 in the process for a healthy per screen average. Import Little White Lies earned $26,500 in just 3 theaters and documentary Somewhere Between scored $7,900 on only a single theater.

The point here is that indie projects have capitalized on the end of the summer blockbuster season. Children are heading back to school, people are having to choose whether to spend more money on movies after big event movie purchases, and several smaller films have figured out the right ways to draw in customers ready for a CGI break. Without a doubt, Obama’s America has positioned itself well not only with the upcoming election but with the Republican National Convention taking place this week. All in all, it’s a banner week for independent film and a bad week for bicycle messenger movies without brakes. [Box Office Mojo]

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.