NEW YORK – Joel Gilbert’s new documentary feature film “There’s No Place Like Utopia” is springboarding from a sensational debut weekend in Denver to open next week in Houston, with the goal to go nationwide this fall, just in time to impact the November midterm elections.
“I’m happy to report ‘Utopia’ had a wildly successful opening weekend in Denver,” Gilbert told WND. “We took in $31,710, making it the No. 1 per screen average grossing film in the USA for the weekend!
“The enthusiasm in the audiences was incredible, a standing ovation at every screening,” Gilbert continued. “One group even came back again with American flags!”
“We are now expanding in Colorado and then Houston, shooting for a national release on Labor Day,” Gilbert reported.
Beginning Friday, Aug. 1, “There’s No Place Like Utopia” will expand to Westminster, Highland Ranch and Golden, Colorado, while on Aug. 15, the film will open in three theaters in the Houston, Texas, area.
Gilbert’s film distributor, Rocky Mountain Pictures, also launched Dinesh D’Souza’s first documentary, “2016: Obama’s America,” in a single-screen premiere in Houston, Texas.
On July 13, 2012, D’Souza’s “2016″ went nationwide and ultimately played in more than 2,000 theaters, grossing about $36 million, making it the second-highest grossing political documentary feature film ever.
Rocky Mountains Pictures explained in an email that AMC and Cinemark Theaters, the No. 2 and No. 3 largest movie theater chains in the nation, both requested to show “There’s No Place Like Utopia” in their theaters nationwide after weekend box office results were officially published Monday morning.
“We expect to open ‘There’s No Place Like Utopia’ in 1,000 theaters nationwide in 5-7 weeks, and very possibly in 2,000 theaters, just like we did with D’Souza’s film two years ago,” Rocky Mountains Pictures explained in an email.
Packed premier in Denver
WND attended Gilbert’s weekend premiere, which featured five showings a day on one screen. Each showing had long lines and sellout, or near sellout, crowds that responded enthusiastically with sustained applause at the conclusion.
WND interviewed various moviegoers to get their reaction to the film.
“What imagination, what facts, what humor, what a ‘happy warrior,’ what quality music, what good pacing and timing, what validation of the truth that is stated by the victims of their own demise both wittingly and unwittingly … a masterpiece,” said Alan Favre of Denver after viewing the film.
“All high school economics and sociology classes should review this film,” he said.
Peter Perry of Denver said the movie “is absolutely terrifying and terrific at the same time.”
“We have sent out a ‘must see’ notice to several hundred of our friends.”
Barbara Olshansky said: “My husband and I just saw your documentary here in Denver. This is a must see and absolutely brilliant.”
Gilbert was clearly moved by the strongly positive audience reaction.
“As a filmmaker, it’s a thrill, after so much work, to watch your movie with a large audience and hear them laugh, get angry and then see them cry,” he said.
“The audiences were clearly moved; there were standing ovations after each showing. People came up to me crying afterwards; it almost brought me to tears.”
After each screening, Gilbert engaged the audience in a question-and-answer session, sometimes lasting as long as 15 minutes, that only concluded when the screening of the trailers for the next scheduled showing caused the theater to be darkened.
“At each screening, the crowds became more intense, more vocal, more enthusiastic,” Gilbert said. “The questions they asked demonstrated the audiences are well-informed and very concerned about the direction of the country.”
WND observed that many people returned to see the film a second time.
The final scene of the film shows filmmaker Gilbert waving an American flag in Malibu, California, on an expansive Pacific Ocean beach.
Several audience members who had seen the film on opening day returned to the screening Sunday afternoon, bringing American flags with them this time.
When Gilbert began waving the flag in the film scene, the audience stood up in unison and waved their flags wildly to join Gilbert in the big finale.
“I was deeply moved by this gesture,” Gilbert told WND. “Even more so when the audience presented me with the flags as gifts of gratitude for making the film.”
The flag-waving was the brainchild of Amy Byczkowski of Denver.
She wrote to Gilbert later in an email: “We are praying for enormous blessings upon this brilliant creation of yours! It is imperative that the truth shine from the hill and that millions upon millions of hearts and minds be enlightened by the truth. Thank you for being that light.”
Gilbert told WND, “I encourage everyone to bring America flags to my film, I love it!”
‘There is no wizard’
As WND reported, Gilbert takes his viewers on a journey of discovery across America, emulating the style of the highly successful Michael Moore films, the leftist filmmaker who currently holds the distinction of having produced the highest-grossing documentary in film history.
In his new film, Gilbert depicts Barack Obama as “the Wizard” in the Land of Oz.
“The fundamental lesson of the Wizard of Oz is that there is no wizard.” Gilbert said.
“Obama has made promise after promise that have all turned out to be empty, all turned out to be lies. The people I met who supported him were literally living in dungeons in the witch’s castle, everything had changed for the worse – Detroit, South Side Chicago, Newark. Fifty years of progressive control over these cities demonstrated that no one was progressing, they were all regressing.”
See the film trailer:
Featured in the film are commentaries from WND staff reporter and author Jerome R. Corsi, WND columnist and author Jack Cashill, conservative author David Horowitz and former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky.
Keying off Dorothy's conclusion in the classic "Wizard of Oz" that there's no place like home, Gilbert analyzes the literal meaning of "Utopia" to argue, "There's no place like Utopia."
The Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA, gave "Utopia" a rating of PG-13, signifying parents are strongly cautioned that some content is not appropriate to children under 13, due to "some disturbing images."
"I think PG-13 is an appropriate rating," Gilbert said.
He told WND, "The MPAA could just have said progressivism and the images progressivism has generated in America are disturbing."