Conservative filmmakers say that the industry is “leaving a big pile of money on the table” by failing to appeal to Trump backers and other right-wing moviegoers.
Gina Carano and Ben Shapiro discussed their forthcoming collaboration, an untitled film in which the ousted Mandalorian actress would star and produce, on a Feb. 21 episode of The Ben Shapiro Show. Carano, who was fired by Disney for a “abhorrent” social media post that contrasted the plight of America’s politically conservative in 2021 to that of Jews before the Holocaust, revealed the mystery project she’s working on for the Daily Wire digital channel, which was created by Shapiro.
When asked what she wants to do next, the actress said, “I’m a big fan of Ryan Gosling’s movie Drive.” “In Hollywood, I’ve been a little underutilised.”
The ultra-violent Drive can seem to be an uncommon template for the right-wing distributor, which aims to create films that support conservative values. The Daily Wire, on the other hand, is proving to have eclectic taste by acquiring the school-shooter thriller Run Hide Battle, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September. Is there still money to be made?
Daily Wire isn’t alone in its pursuit of the politically right-leaning film audience, which is distinct from but overlaps with the lucrative faith-based film market. In the November race, more than 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump. And there isn’t any Hollywood material that specifically appeals to them right now. This creates a huge opportunity for those willing to risk being shunned by the rest of the industry.
Films aimed at politically conservative viewers include ‘The Plot Against the President’ (left) and ‘Roe v. Wade.’
The Plot Against the President, directed by Amanda Milius, the daughter of Apocalypse Now screenwriter John Milius and actress Celia Kaye, was one of the most popular documentaries of 2020, purporting to reveal a Democratic plot to destabilise then-President Trump by proving Russian intervention in his election. Based on Lee Smith’s 2019 best-seller, the $700,000 film shot to No. 1 on Amazon after its Oct. The number 9 has been released. Milius claims that the Russiagate satire was successful even before it was released as a VOD title in February on iTunes and more than 30 cable providers.
“I have no problem with Hollywood making an ideological business decision not to produce content that the majority of Americans want to see,” Milius tells THR. “Because they’re leaving a large sum of money on the table, which my company is happy to accept.” She’s been pleasantly surprised by “massive” DVD presales and an unexpected appetite for the film in Japan, which she describes as “surprising.”
“I was like, ‘Oh, it’s 2020,'” she says. Who gives a damn about DVDs?’ However, it appears that this audience prefers the physical film because they are uncertain if it will be available online,” says the USC film alum. “Japan is fascinated with Trump, and we have a massive audience there because they are so angry about China.” (Historically, Sino-Japanese relations have been tense.)
Over the next three years, Milius’ Washington-based production company, 1AMDC, plans to release five to eight films, beginning with a documentary about China and censorship.
Meanwhile, with a cast that includes such outspoken right-wing talent as Jon Voight and Stacey Dash, Nick Loeb’s Roe v. Wade, which premieres April 2 on Amazon, iTunes, and PVOD and takes a critical look at abortion rights advocate Margaret Sanger, portraying her speaking at a KKK conference, is primed to appeal to the politically conservative.
The $6 million-plus budget took three years to come up with, according to Loeb, who is Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s nephew. Some was raised through crowdfunding, but most of it came from investors who each put in between $10,000 and $750,000. Octavius Prince, the film’s biggest donor, is an outspoken supporter of abortion rights.
“The first draught was probably 70/30 pro-life/pro-choice when Nick gave me the script,” says Prince, who invested in the 2015 IFC Films drama The Preppie Link. “It goes without saying that I want to make money. So I pushed him to make this a bit more balanced. When I read the second draught, I wanted to enter. To be honest, I like that it’s controversial.”
Loeb, who famously feuded with ex-wife Sofia Vergara over the fate of their frozen embryos, says he expects some backlash from Hollywood. “You can be a conservative in Hollywood and a Republican, and no one would object. “In Hollywood, there are only two things you can’t be: pro-Trump and pro-life,” says Loeb, who is both.
Despite the pandemic, a small company is emerging on the outskirts of the industry and gaining popularity on VOD. According to The Daily Wire, the livestreamed premiere of Run Hide Battle attracted 300,000 viewers. Milius, on the other hand, believes that the tech behemoths — especially Amazon — will fight back against right-wing material. Amazon abruptly stopped hosting all documentaries and short films on its Prime Video Direct service in February. According to one top negotiator, the change is bad for everyone and a sign that Amazon is moving toward a more curated approach.
“We broke their algorithms and were number one on everyone’s front page,” Milius says. “Amazon would rather kill the independent documentary industry as a whole than allow something like that to happen again.”