Looks like Michael Moore, Disney, and Miramax will be able to make nice after all and work out a distribution deal for Moore’s controversial documentary ”Fahrenheit 9/11.” A week after Moore complained that Disney wouldn’t let its Miramax division release the anti-Bush film, Miramax co-chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein announced that they would buy the film back from Disney and release it themselves through a third-party distributor. ”Whatever current interests Miramax has in the film would be acquired by Bob and Harvey personally,” Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha told the Los Angeles Times. Moore has said he hopes to have the movie playing in American theaters by the July 4th weekend.
In ”Fahrenheit 9/11,” Moore criticizes President Bush for his handling of the war on terror and cites business links between the Bush and bin Laden families. Last week, the director had complained that Disney was squelching his film, despite having financed it, because the studio feared it would offend the president and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who might be moved to revoke any lucrative tax breaks Disney receives from the state where Disney World is located. Disney denied the allegation, claiming that it had informed Moore of its decision not to distribute the movie a year ago, on the grounds that it didn’t want to appear partisan, especially during an election year.
Disney has prevented Miramax from releasing controversial movies in the past, and the Weinsteins have responded by finding other outlets for their release. In 1995, the brothers created an ad hoc company for the distribution of the NC-17-rated ”Kids,” and in 1999, they sold Kevin Smith’s ”Dogma” to Lions Gate. It’s not clear whether the Weinsteins will sell ”9/11” or release it themselves. Either way, they stand to realize a solid profit. They’ll pay a reported $6 million to reimburse Disney for the production cost, while the movie’s controversy and topicality could help it break the previous record domestic gross for a documentary, which is $22 million. That record is held by Moore’s last movie, the Oscar-winning ”Bowling for Columbine.”