from the believing-in-the-same-fallacy-unites-the-parties dept
For the first time in memory, one entity has accused another in the same field (politics) of using piracy as a weapon. In this strange case, conservative filmmakers are accusing Obama supporters of uploading the full version of their documentary, "2016: Obama's America," to YouTube in order to harm box office sales.
The film, the second-highest-grossing political documentary in U.S. box-office history, has made $32 million domestically since opening in mid July but took in only $938,000 during the recent weekend for a per-screen average of $771, down 27 percent from $1,060 per screen in the previous weekend, according to BoxOfficeMojo. Overall, the movie's box-office dropped 53 percent in the most recent weekend compared with the previous one, its largest decline since opening 10 weeks ago.The filmmakers contacted the FBI about the possible piracy and the user who uploaded the full film has taken it offline. In addition, mass emailings announced the (fake) news that Fox News would be showing the movie for free last Sunday. Many bloggers and websites ran with the story, but most have issued retractions.
While such a drop isn't unusual for a movie during the course of a week -- especially when the theater count dropped from 1,876 to 1,216 -- filmmakers nevertheless say box-office results were artificially depressed for two reasons: a disinformation campaign spreading the false rumor that Fox News Channel would be showing the movie in its entirety Sunday and a pirated version of the film showing up on YouTube this weekend.
The whole situation is a bit odd. Obama's official website issued a post criticizing the film and one of its creators, Dinesh D'Souza, saying he has a “long history of attempting to add a veneer of intellectual respectability to fringe theories, conspiratorial fear-mongering and flat-out falsehoods.” One wouldn't normally expect the President (or at least, a high-ranking spokesperson) to respond to a clearly political documentary. Perhaps the fact that "2016: Obama's America" is now the second-highest grossing political documentary added a bit of pressure.
However, while it's clear that some sort of misinformation campaign took place, it's a stretch to lay the dropoff in ticket sales on the "dirty tricks" of Obama supporters. It's fairly common for movies to experience large dropoffs in ticket sales from week-to-week. It's also fairly common for movies to get pirated. The other argument against a "concerted effort" to tank box office receipts is the timing. "2016:Obama's America" has been in the theaters 10 weeks and is due for a DVD release in October. As Zac Gille at Alt Film Guide asks: "Why now? Why not two months ago?"
“The reports of the movie appearing on Fox before the election are completely untrue," Dinesh D’Souza declared, "and we strongly suspect that they are the result of dirty tricks by our opponents who spread this rumor in order to confuse the general public and keep them from going to their local theaters."Even if it turns out that a few Obama supporters did mount an effort to tank ticket sales, it would be tough to separate any possible impact from the misinformation campaign from the normal sales decline of any theatrical release. If anything, the piracy and misinformation plan backfired as the particularly loud response from the filmmakers can't help but draw more attention to the 10 week old film. Not only that, but uploading the movie to YouTube where it could be watched for free drives more viewers (and potential voters) to the film itself, a side effect the film's (alleged) opponents couldn't possibly have intended. However this turns out, we have a new tactic to add to the piracy pantheon -- piracy as political sabotage.
If so, what an idiotic waste of time on the part of D’Souza’s and 2016 Obama’s America‘s "opponents." After all, the 2016 movie is fast on its way out.
So, why on earth would anyone in his/her right (or left, as the case may be) mind want to keep people "from going to their local theaters" to watch a movie that so few moviegoers care about at this stage? If an organized anti-2016 Obama’s America effort truly exists, then those guys have arrived on the scene a little too late. They should have acted five weeks ago, when the 2016 movie began its initially popular expansion.