Disney forbidding distribution of Michael Moore's new film that criticizes Bush

From The Wilmington Star-News

WASHINGTON - The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday.

The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis including the family of Osama bin Laden and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Disney, which bought Miramax more than a decade ago, has a contractual agreement with the Miramax principals, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, allowing it to prevent the company from distributing films under certain circumstances, like an excessive budget or an NC-17 rating.

Executives at Miramax, who became principal investors in Mr. Moore's project last spring, do not believe that this is one of those cases, people involved in the production of the film said. If a compromise is not reached, these people said, the matter could go to mediation, though neither side is said to want to travel that route.


In a statement, Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for Miramax, said: "We're discussing the issue with Disney. We're looking at all of our options and look forward to resolving this amicably."

But Disney executives indicated that they would not budge from their position forbidding Miramax to be the distributor of the film in North America. Overseas rights have been sold to a number of companies, executives said.

"We advised both the agent and Miramax in May of 2003 that the film would not be distributed by Miramax," said Zenia Mucha, a company spokeswoman, referring to Mr. Moore's agent. "That decision stands."

Disney came under heavy criticism from conservatives last May after the disclosure that Miramax had agreed to finance the film when Icon Productions, Mel Gibson's company, backed out.

Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

"Michael Eisner asked me not to sell this movie to Harvey Weinstein; that doesn't mean I listened to him," Mr. Emanuel said. "He definitely indicated there were tax incentives he was getting for the Disney corporation and that's why he didn't want me to sell it to Miramax. He didn't want a Disney company involved."

Disney executives deny that accusation, though they said their displeasure over the deal was made clear to Miramax and Mr. Emanuel.

A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company had the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films if it deemed their distribution to be against the interests of the company. The executive said Mr. Moore's film is deemed to be against Disney's interests not because of the company's business dealings with the government but because Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many.

"It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle," this executive said.

Miramax is free to seek another distributor in North America, but such a deal would force it to share profits and be a blow to Harvey Weinstein, a big donor to Democrats.

Mr. Moore, who will present the film at the Cannes film festival this month, criticized Disney's decision in an interview on Tuesday, saying, "At some point the question has to be asked, `Should this be happening in a free and open society where the monied interests essentially call the shots regarding the information that the public is allowed to see?' "

Mr. Moore's films, like "Roger and Me" and "Bowling for Columbine," are often a political lightning rod, as Mr. Moore sets out to skewer what he says are the misguided priorities of conservatives and big business. They have also often performed well at the box office. His most recent movie, "Bowling for Columbine," took in about $22 million in North America for United Artists. His books, like "Stupid White Men," a jeremiad against the Bush administration that has sold more than a million copies, have also been lucrative.

Mr. Moore does not disagree that "Fahrenheit 911" is highly charged, but he took issue with the description of it as partisan. "If this is partisan in any way it is partisan on the side of the poor and working people in this country who provide fodder for this war machine," he said.

Mr. Moore said the film describes financial connections between the Bush family and its associates and prominent Saudi Arabian families that go back three decades. He said it closely explores the government's role in the evacuation of relatives of Mr. bin Laden from the United States immediately after the 2001 attacks. The film includes comments from American soldiers on the ground in Iraq expressing disillusionment with the war, he said.

Mr. Moore once planned to produce the film with Mr. Gibson's company, but "the project wasn't right for Icon," said Alan Nierob, an Icon spokesman, adding that the decision had nothing to do with politics.

Miramax stepped in immediately. The company had distributed Mr. Moore's 1997 film, "The Big One." In return for providing most of the new film's $6 million budget, Miramax was positioned to distribute it.

While Disney's objections were made clear early on, one executive said the Miramax leadership hoped it would be able to prevail upon Disney to sign off on distribution, which would ideally happen this summer, before the election and when political interest is high.

2004 Wilmington Star-News

Rerinted from The Wilmington Star-News:
http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040505/ZNYT02/405050429/1004/LOCAL 

http://www.smirkingchimp.com comments

by Garzoid on Wednesday, May 05 @ 12:46:09 EDT
(User Info)
NEXT IS THE RETURN OF THE DRAFT

[ Reply ]

Re: Disney forbidding distribution of Michael Moore's new fi (Score: 1)
by tom_bldr on Wednesday, May 05 @ 12:27:38 EDT
(User Info)
http://www.michaelmoore.com

Wednesday, May 5th, 2004
Disney Has Blocked the Distribution of My New Film... by Michael Moore

Friends,

I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter.

Yesterday I was told that Disney, the studio that owns Miramax, has officially decided to prohibit our producer, Miramax, from distributing my new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." The reason? According to today's (May 5) New York Times, it might "endanger" millions of dollars of tax breaks Disney receives from the state of Florida because the film will "anger" the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. The story is on page one of the Times and you can read it here (Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush).

The whole story behind this (and other attempts) to kill our movie will be told in more detail as the days and weeks go on. For nearly a year, this struggle has been a lesson in just how difficult it is in this country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge (well, OK, sorry -- it WILL upset them...big time. Did I mention it's a comedy?). All I can say is, thank God for Harvey Weinstein and Miramax who have stood by me during the entire production of this movie.

There is much more to tell, but right now I am in the lab working on the print to take to the Cannes Film Festival next week (we have been chosen as one of the 18 films in competition). I will tell you this: Some people may be afraid of this movie because of what it will show. But there's nothing they can do about it now because it's done, it's awesome, and if I have anything to say about it, you'll see it this summer -- because, after all, it is a free country.

Yours,

Michael Moore
mmflint@aol.com
www.michaelmoore.com


by arkose on Wednesday, May 05 @ 12:23:23 EDT
(User Info)
So Disney has the distribution rights for Micheal Moore's new movie, but they refuse to release it. I'm no lawyer, but I assume that means that no other companies can release it either. Am I just paranoid, or does this look like something that Disney planned from the start? They hear that Moore is looking for a company to finance and distribute his film; Disney has a subsidiary buy the rights. And now that the film is done, Disney (of all companies) has total control.

Pretty clever of those folks at the Mickey Mouse Club.

I'll have a much easier time imagining that Nazi armband on Mickey from now on. Not that it was very difficult before.



by starcat on Wednesday, May 05 @ 12:15:04 EDT
(User Info)
Don't know that I'm particularly surprised at this- dismayed, maybe, but not surprised. Disney is a card-holding member of the corporate media and it's all about money (and power). The Disney execs are scared shitless that allowing Miramax to distribute this film will 1) piss off a large enough part of the population to negatively impact their revenue and 2) piss off Dubya and his illegal, immoral cadre, which will then punish them the next time they're up for review of a business deal at the FCC (remember that Michael Powell is Colin's son) or lobby for yet another bill to give them additional corporate tax breaks.

I really don't believe it's mostly about politics, just money, access and power. I bet if all the bogus polls showed that most 'muricans hated the Chimp, they'd be happy to let this fly.

Disney has been sweet and low fascism for a long time now, and not allowed in my house or near my children (OK, we do have Fantasia, but that was made back in the day). Not surprised.

The beauty of this is that the flap over censorship will, perhaps, engender enough curiosity among those who wouldn't ordinarily be aware of the film to see it. Those who know of Moore's work will see it and talk about it and share the information no matter who releases it. It would be nice if it lit off a boycott of Disney, too, but I doubt it.


by bigvic on Wednesday, May 05 @ 12:05:09 EDT
(User Info)
OK, Mr. Moore's new movie title "Fahrenheit 911" is a cleaver take on Ray Bradbury's story Fahrenheit 452, about government sponsored book burning. The most wild-eyed conspiracy theorist could not have come up with a better illustration of government intimidation. The Bush family needs to find a tiny island to occupy somewhere far, far away and leave the rest of us alone. Dude! Where's my country?


by bigvic on Wednesday, May 05 @ 11:59:41 EDT
(User Info)
OK, Mr. Moore's new movie title "Fahrenheit 911" is a clever take on Ray Bradbury's story, Fahrenheit 451, about government sponsored book burning. The most wild-eyed conspiracy theorist could not have come up with a better illustration of government intimidation. The Bush family needs to find a tiny island to occupy somewhere far, far away and leave the rest of us alone. Dude! Where's my country?


by dididadadidit on Wednesday, May 05 @ 11:47:33 EDT
(User Info)
About a week before the start of the invasion of Iraq in March of '03, the administration in mid-week requested of the Japanese gov't that they send a couple of Iraqui diplomats in Tokyo packing. The Japanese politely declined the request and one would think that to be the end of the matter.

Maybe, maybe not. While channel hopping over the following weekend, I just happened to catch an English broadcast of news from Seoul (probably on C-Span as its not bloody likely the propaganda organs of Fox through ABC would let overseas slants on the news to get air time). They said that a fire in Washington DC at the Japanese ambassador's residence had been put out and that no injuries were sustained.

A little arson retribution to encourage our Japanese allies to take our requests more seriously? Simple timing coincidence with these people involved is hard to swallow.

Question!

by Kmurf on Wednesday, May 05 @ 11:32:14 EDT
(User Info)
Why does Disney hate America?

by reprehensor on Wednesday, May 05 @ 11:29:07 EDT
(User Info)
Yes there is a big enough mousetrap, and yes you are gonna find yourself in it, rat-breath.

And your retarded dog, too.


by yellowdawg on Wednesday, May 05 @ 11:25:26 EDT
(User Info)
It's not about zionism per se, it's about money and retribution...the money they're stealing and the fear of retribution (and the cost of that retribution). This administration has taken revenge for even the slightest slight to a degree unheard of in anyone's memory...you get out of line and you pay a price...we've got the power to cost you money and reputation and we're quite willing to use it. Their attacks on the whistleblowers, the critics, the former insiders...what's next?

The fact is there's nothing that these bastards won't do to beat people into submission so that they can continue their systematic looting of the treasury for themselves and their guys.


Re: Disney forbidding distribution of Michael Moore's new film that criticizes Bush (Score: 1)
by tenpowayler on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:54:54 EDT
(User Info)
What do you expect when you have Israeli , Zionist spies running and OWNING Hollywood and most of what we read see and hear.

We are under seige of Zionists and Sharon`s agents in USA.

Unless we take back America from Israeli agents who are here to destroy America...for the benefit of Israel.. we will get deeper into darkness.

Arrest all zionists in USA.
Deport them and bring them to court for high treason.
There is not other solution

Take back America form Israel
This is our country not theirs

We are fighting the wrong war..our war is with the Zionists in USA and Israel...and make no mistake about that.

Take back OUR America


by tenpowayler on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:54:34 EDT
(User Info)
What do you expect when you have Israeli , Zionist spies running and OWNING Hollywood and most of what we read see and hear.

We are under seige of Zionists and Sharon`s agents in USA.

Unless we take back America from Israeli agents who are here to destroy America...for the benefit of Israel.. we will get deeper into darkness.

Arrest all zionists in USA.
Deport them and bring them to court for high treason.
There is not other solution

Take back America form Israel
This is our country not theirs

We are fighting the wrong war..out war is with the Zionists in USA and Israel...and make no mistake about that.

Take back OUR America


by regular_joe3_0 (mad@monkey_boy) on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:52:29 EDT
(User Info)
The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday.

What's the use of controlling the media if you can't prevent free speech?

Here, on display for all the world to see, is the direct result of concentrating the media into a few hands. Here we see the fruition of the Republican controlled, modern, a-go-go FCC efforts to control what the American people see and, more importantly, what they don't see. This is the GOP's media filter in action.

No flag draped coffins, no maimed or mutilated corpses, and above all, no criticism of the chimp.

Is this how things work in a healthy democracy? I don't think so.


by legalizit2 on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:48:43 EDT
(User Info)
I'm reminded of 2 Live Crew. Not for any reason other than, if you are censored, it is free publicity. More people will want to see the film now, and they might be inticed to get educated. Maybe the goof-ball that bought the porno-rap, will have a light bulb moment(when he sees the movie) and realize he needs to get involved in getting rid of a psycho and help save our troubled nation. I naver listened to the "Crew" , but Todd Rundgren has a new record out!!! Oh Hell yeah! Todd's so great - a true musical wonder. On tour, too. We're gonna try to see him. The record is not favorable to 'Liars'. Now who do you think he means? Maybe it will get banned like Mike's movie! I think that would be cool.


by Groverpm on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:47:03 EDT
(User Info)
Free Speech?


by Peggy on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:36:23 EDT
(User Info)
Good for Miramax! I hope they stick to their guns on this one. ;-)

by Political_Commisar on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:29:56 EDT
(User Info)
That shamelessly liberal town called "Hollywood" strikes again!


by Chronic on Wednesday, May 05 @ 10:22:55 EDT
(User Info)
Disney forbidding distribution of Michael Moore's new film that criticizes Bush

**bush & co. trying to sensor the America media is nothing new. The bush opposition doing something about it instead of whinning, now that would be something new!**