The answer: They’re better at it.
“In the words of my friend Andrew Breitbart, ‘If you can’t sell freedom and liberty, you suck,’ ” said John Sullivan, co-director of “2016: Obama’s America,” the slick Dinesh D’Souza documentary that grossed more than $30 million at the box office last year. (A sequel is in the works.)
This panel of conservatives — Marcus, Sullivan, producers Mark Joseph (upcoming biopic “Reagan”) and Gerald Molen (”Schindler’s List” and “2016”) and consultant Pat Caddell (“The West Wing”) — all agreed on one thing: The right, for the most part, makes lousy (cheap, preachy, didactic) movies and TV.
“Do you people want to win? Or do you just want to entertain yourselves?” Caddell asked the CPAC audience. He brandished a copy of “Dreams From My Real Father,” a low-budget documentary that claims Obama is the secret son of a communist. This, said Caddell, is what not to do.
Instead, make something like “The Bible,” Mark Burnett’s surprise new hit on the History Channel. Or “Argo,” said Marcus: He hated about four minutes of the politics, loved the rest because it was a great movie. Art comes before ideology, he told them: “I’m not a conservative filmmaker. I’m a filmmaker.”
Hollywood’s dirty little secret? The town cares more about money than politics, Caddell said. Come up with a good idea — good narrative, acting and production values — that sells and “it’s wide open.”
The hurdles? Not only does the right fly under the radar in the entertainment industry, but it’s also not great at funding and packaging ideas that turn into great movies. Sullivan estimated that liberals outspend conservatives by $4 billion in the industry; political donors who give millions to right-leaning candidates are far less likely to invest in a movie.
Dumb move, according to the panel members, who claimed there’s a vast, untapped audience in this country.
“If we in Hollywood get America right,” Joseph said, “I think box-office numbers would absolutely skyrocket.”