Michael Moore's quest to bring his documentary ''Fahrenheit 9/11'' to U.S. multiplexes has taken on a ''Lord of the Rings''-like quality, with Moore having cast President Bush, or perhaps Disney chief Michael Eisner, as Sauron. On Tuesday, a month after Disney's refusal to allow Miramax to distribute the avowedly partisan film became public, Moore and Miramax co-chiefs Harvey and Bob Weinstein announced a U.S. distribution deal for the movie, orchestrated by the Weinsteins' ad hoc Fellowship Adventure label. In this case, the fellowship of the reel includes the Weinsteins, Lions Gate, and IFC Films, who will collaborate to bring the movie to theaters on June 25.
In the past, when parent company Disney has declined to distribute a controversial Miramax-produced movie, it has allowed the Weinsteins to buy back the film and find another distributor, often Lions Gate, which picked up ''O'' and ''Dogma.'' IFC is best known for helping to turn ''My Big Fat Greek Wedding'' into one of the most successful independent releases of all time. Moore has ties to both Lions Gate and IFC, as he noted in a statement. ''With Frodo [Harvey] and Sam [Bob] now in charge of the Fellowship, I welcome the addition of Lions Gate and IFC to our quest in bringing good family entertainment to the viewing public,'' he said. ''[Lions Gate CEO] Jon Feltheimer produced my series 'TV Nation' and IFC produced my series 'The Awful Truth.' Not only am I in good hands, I am grateful to them now that everyone who wants to see it will now have the chance to do so.''
The June 25 date will see little competition for ''Fahrenheit'' at the box office; the other major releases that weekend are the romance ''The Notebook'' and the children's film ''Two Brothers.'' Still up in the air are DVD rights. Moore has said he wants the film on disc by October in order to influence the presidential election.