Movie Article

Rising Temperature

''Fahrenheit'' crosses $100 million mark. Even Michael Eisner says he enjoyed the movie, even though the record-breaking documentary could have grossed all that money for Disney

Michael Moore marked ''Fahrenheit 9/11'''s latest milestone the same way he marks many occasions: by talking to the press. Over the weekend, the documentary crossed the $100 million mark at the box office, a remarkable enough number for an independent summer release without CGI action sequences, but an unheard-of figure for a documentary, about five times the previous record of $21 million, held by Moore's last movie, the Oscar-winning ''Bowling for Columbine.''

Moore celebrated by holding a conference call with reporters on Sunday, in which he noted the irony that his movie had outperformed any film released so far this year by Disney, which famously funded Moore's movie through its Miramax arm and then declined to let Miramax release it, on the grounds that Disney didn't want to be associated with a project as openly partisan as ''Fahrenheit.'' (Miramax chiefs Harvey and Bob Weinstein bought the film from Disney and distributed it in collaboration with Lions Gate and IFC Films.''If you had told me when we were going through all the pre-distribution problems with Disney that this film would gross more than any other Disney film this year,'' Moore said, ''I don't even know how to respond to that.''

In fact, Disney chief Michael Eisner himself gave ''Fahrenheit'' a thumbs-up last week, the Associated Press reports. ''The reason it is a hit is it's entertaining,'' he said at a Fortune magazine-sponsored business conference in Aspen. ''I thought it was like going to a rock concert. I loved it, but not in a political [sense].''

Moore said the movie had such legs at the box office that he was considering delaying the DVD release until after the November election. Last month, Moore said he'd hoped to have the DVD available before the election in order to influence voters. Of course, keeping it in theaters until the end of the year could influence another set of voters, those of the Academy.

Besides, it's not clear what impact, if any, ''Fahrenheit'' will have at the ballot box. On Friday, the Los Angeles Times published a poll of registered voters nationwide, only 9 percent of whom said they had seen the movie. Of those, only 6 percent were Republicans. Seventy-nine percent of the viewers said that seeing the movie did not change their vote. So it's not clear whether the film is reaching unregistered or undecided voters, but even if it energizes the Democratic base to turn out in force on Election Day, it's not changing the minds of many Republicans.

Originally posted Jul 26, 2004