After releasing his election conspiracy documentary “2000 Mules” as an on-demand digital film, far-right filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pivoted to a theatrical release in 411 locations this weekend — including support from national theater chain Cinemark — grossing a reported $751,755.
“2000 Miles” was first released two weeks ago on the video streaming platform Rumble with little mainstream marketing, as even Fox News and Newsmax refused to advertise the film amid their own legal troubles for promoting conspiracy theories from the 2020 presidential election. While D’Souza’s distribution company has provided little data on the film’s on-demand performance, it said in a press release that the film grossed over $1 million in its first 12 hours on Rumble, a result that D’Souza said prompted the theatrical release this weekend.
“With the success of the movie, everyone talking about the movie, a lot of independent theaters began to call us, ‘Hey, why didn’t we have this movie in the theater?’“ D’Souza said in an annoucement of the release.
While most of the 411 theaters that screened “2000 Mules” were independently owned theaters, a considerable number came from the national theater chain Cinemark. Judd Legum, an independent journalist and former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer, reported that at least 169 Cinemark locations screened the film this weekend.
Reps for the Plano, Texas-based cinema company did not respond to requests for comment on how many of its theaters played the film — or the decision to book it.
Though the film’s on-demand availability likely dampened box office numbers, its performance is considerably lower than D’Souza’s recent films, which opened to well over $2 million and in much wider release.
His 2018 pro-Trump documentary “Death of a Nation” opened in 1,005 theaters to $2.3 million and a per-theater average of $2,345 compared to $1,811 for “2000 Mules.” Before that, his 2016 Hillary Clinton attack doc “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” opened to just under $4 million from 1,216 theaters for a $3,260 average. That film also cracked the top 10 on the box office charts in the middle of July, something that “2000 Mules” could not do in a theatrical market still struggling to recover from the pandemic.
“2000 Mules” has been championed by Trump as “the greatest and most impactful documentary of our time” via his Truth Social app after he premiered it at his Mar-a-Lago compound, and the film has becoming popular among the former president’s staunchest supporters.
However, the film’s conspiracy theory claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump have been challenged by multiple news sources, including The Associated Press and National Public Radio, debunking D’Souza’s claims that he had used GPS tracking to find proof of voter fraud. D’Souza has attacked the fact-checking articles on Twitter and on his podcast, claiming his evidence “cannot be refuted.”
In 2018, Trump issued a presidential pardon for D’Souza, who had pleaded guilty four years earlier to making illegal campaign contributions to a Republican Senate candidate in New York; he was sentenced to a $30,000 fine and five years of probation.