Producers of the movie "2016: Obama's America" say there was an organized effort to drive viewers away from the theatrical showing of the successful documentary this past weekend by posting illegally uploaded copies on YouTube. The effort included a disinformation campaign that spread the rumor that Fox News Channel planned to show the movie in its entirety last Sunday, filmmakers said.
"The reports of the movie appearing on Fox before the election are completely untrue 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," said the film's writer/director, Dinesh D'Souza. "We urge all Americans to ignore these efforts and go to their local theater and enjoy the movie on the big screen."
D'Souza added, "We have not been approached by any television network to air the film." On Tuesday, producers announced on Facebook that DVDs of the movie will be available Oct. 16 and that "digital copies before then are bootlegs! We are still in theaters, help us send a message!"
Although box office numbers have dropped since the film's high early take, the movie is now the second-highest-grossing political documentary in U.S. box-office history and has made $32 million domestically since opening in mid-July.
A YouTube video of the movie that was uploaded over the weekend is no longer available and the same goes for a Vimeo video that was deleted Tuesday afternoon. However, a copy of the movie done in three parts is available (at the time this article was written) on a website linked at the YouTube webpage where the movie was previously hosted.
The FBI was informed of the YouTube incident and has launched an investigation, said producer Doug Sain. "We urge all Americans to respect the copyright of this film and not place themselves in legal jeopardy by engaging in illegal activity in the form of viewing or downloading the movie online," Sain said.
They also informed YouTube of a copyright breach, prompting the user to take down the film.
"Saturday morning, I started getting emails from groups and individuals either warning me about the piracy of '2016: Obama's America' or thanking me for allowing the movie to go online," said Randy Slaughter, president of Rocky Mountain Pictures, the film's distributor.
Filmmakers call the movie "the definitive account of how one man's past could redefine a nation and where we will be in 2016 if Obama remains in the White House."
D'Souza told The Christian Post at the time of the movie's release in late July that the film is broken down into two parts. "One looks backward into Obama's past and the other looks forward into what we can expect over the next four years. There's roughly equal time in the movie to both themes. The movie is also based on two books – my earlier book, The Roots of Obama's Rage (2010), and a new book called Obama's America. The earlier book looks back and the new book looks forward, and the movie combines both," he said.
The film took in only $938,000 during the past 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 numbers dropped 53 percent in the most recent weekend compared with the previous one, its largest decline since opening 10 weeks ago.
"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," filmmakers stated.