Conservatives can’t hide their hope that 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, the movie released this past weekend about the 2012 attack, helps them defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. But we’ve seen this movie before. And Republicans aren’t going to be too happy with the ending. Almost from the first talkie, Hollywood directors have thought they could use their moviemaking skills to influence voters. And almost without exception, they have been disappointed.
Director Michael Bay, famed for his action movies like the Transformers series, is giving it a shot with 13 Hours. The movie premiered with a heavy boost from the Right. At both last week’s undercard Republican debate and the main event, candidates urged viewers to go to the movie. In addition to those endorsements from Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz, House Republicans made time at their retreat in Baltimore to take in the movie, and candidate Donald Trump commandeered a theater in Iowa to let Iowans “know the truth about what happened at Benghazi,” according to his Iowa cochair.
The studio knew its potential audience and targeted conservatives in its initial marketing campaign, according to The Hollywood Reporter, because “they know what they have: a movie that will appeal to red states far more than blue ones.” The first weekend’s numbers backed that up: Paramount reported that 41 percent of the film’s grosses came from the South, a higher-than-normal percentage. Overall, the opening weekend’s numbers were solid, but slightly under what was expected. Its estimated four-day gross of $19.6 million was one of Bay’s weakest openings but good enough for fourth place behind Ride Along 2, The Revenant, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.