May 29, 2004

Michael Moore Film Nears Release as Disney Sells

"Every day Frodo draws closer to Mordor..."

Peter Henderson, Reuters: Michael Moore's
controversial documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" moved a
step closer to U.S. theaters on Friday as Miramax film
studio founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein personally
bought rights to the picture from Walt Disney Co.
Miramax had funded the film but Disney, which owns the
art-house studio, had declined to distribute the
movie, saying the documentary and its criticism of
President Bush's war on Iraq were too politically
charged...
By clinching a deal now, the movie could still be on
track to get into theaters by the middle of this
summer, despite a crowded field of U.S. releases,
distributors have said.
That fast-track release would capitalize on the recent
surge of interest in the film and give Moore a chance
to influence the November presidential election with
his unflattering portrait of Bush...

Break the Bush Cabal Stranglehold on the "US
Mainstream News Media," Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=5291682

Michael Moore Film Nears Release as Disney Sells
Fri May 28, 2004 05:26 PM ET

By Peter Henderson
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Moore's controversial
documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" moved a step closer to
U.S. theaters on Friday as Miramax film studio
founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein personally bought
rights to the picture from Walt Disney Co. .

Miramax had funded the film but Disney, which owns the
art-house studio, had declined to distribute the
movie, saying the documentary and its criticism of
President Bush's war on Iraq were too politically
charged.

After more than three weeks of talks, the Weinsteins
bought rights to the film for costs to date, estimated
at about $6 million, and will arrange for theatrical
and home video distribution, both sides said in a
statement issued on Friday.

By clinching a deal now, the movie could still be on
track to get into theaters by the middle of this
summer, despite a crowded field of U.S. releases,
distributors have said.

That fast-track release would capitalize on the recent
surge of interest in the film and give Moore a chance
to influence the November presidential election with
his unflattering portrait of Bush.

The Weinsteins would probably turn to a third-party
distributor to handle the film, and talks with such
companies already were under way while the brothers
negotiated with Disney, one distributor said.

Moore sparked interest in the film in early May by
saying Disney had backed down from distributing the
documentary out of fear of political repercussions.

Disney hotly denied that charge and in turn accused
the director of the anti-gun documentary "Bowling for
Columbine" of staging a publicity stunt to promote his
film.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" won this month the Palme d'Or, the
highest award of France's Cannes film festival, with
its portrayal of families affected by the war and U.S.
government policies in the aftermath of the Sept. 11,
2001 attacks that felled the World Trade Center.

It is also expected to meet or beat the box-office
performance of "Columbine," which set a record for a
U.S. documentary with $21.6 million in ticket sales.

Talks are already under way between the Weinsteins and
U.S. distributors, with top contenders seen including
Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Focus Features, a unit
of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal., and
privately held Newmarket Films. Smaller ThinkFilm is
also in the running for the U.S. rights and deals have
already been made for releases outside the United
States.

Disney said that it could still profit if the film did
well but that it would donate any profit to charity.
It did not name the charity.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but a person
familiar with it said that the charity component
assured that neither Disney nor the Weinsteins would
do better under the deal than if Disney had
distributed it.

Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.



Posted by richard at May 29, 2004 09:17 AM