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bash91
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#1 Posted on 5.5.04 0750.03
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0750.03
This should provoke some interesting comments from both sides of the aisle.

Tim

http://www.nytimes.com/ 2004/05/05/national/05DISN.html

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush
By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: May 5, 2004

WASHINGTON, May 4 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.



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Grimis
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#2 Posted on 5.5.04 0823.56
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0824.22
Disney has every right to not distribute it, especially giving the content.

I'm not going to cry for Michael Moore though. He has made millions off this stuff over the years. He'll find a distributor for it.

    Originally posted by Michael Moore
    `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?' "
Except that Disney is a private company and can distibute or not distribute whatever products are in the best interest of the company.
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#3 Posted on 5.5.04 0829.33
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0829.47
    Originally posted by Grimis
    Disney has every right to not distribute it, especially giving the content.

    I'm not going to cry for Michael Moore though. He has made millions off this stuff over the years. He'll find a distributor for it.

      Originally posted by Michael Moore
      `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?' "
    Except that Disney is a private company and can distibute or not distribute whatever products are in the best interest of the company.


Grimis, I thought Disney was a publically traded company. The key in the article was that Disney thought it was bad for business. It is their right. What troubles me is the fact that we have our men and women losing their lives overseas to protect freedom yet we stifle free speech at home. This may be full or errors and totally biased, Moore may be a dick, but he has the right to put the film out and the public has the right to accept or reject it.
wmatistic
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#4 Posted on 5.5.04 0834.16
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0834.42
    Originally posted by DrDirt
      Originally posted by Grimis
      Disney has every right to not distribute it, especially giving the content.

      I'm not going to cry for Michael Moore though. He has made millions off this stuff over the years. He'll find a distributor for it.

        Originally posted by Michael Moore
        `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?' "
      Except that Disney is a private company and can distibute or not distribute whatever products are in the best interest of the company.


    Grimis, I thought Disney was a publically traded company. The key in the article was that Disney thought it was bad for business. It is their right. What troubles me is the fact that we have our men and women losing their lives overseas to protect freedom yet we stifle free speech at home. This may be full or errors and totally biased, Moore may be a dick, but he has the right to put the film out and the public has the right to accept or reject it.


I understand what you're saying, but Disney is not stifling free speech. They are saying we personally don't want to distrubute this because it'll hurt our company. Moore will surely find someone else willing to help him release it. Moore is just a close minded idiot that refuses to let some things go. If the "facts" in this are as tainted as the "facts" were in Bowling for Columbine, it won't be worth watching anyway.
Barbwire Mike
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#5 Posted on 5.5.04 0903.13
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0903.27
It's Moore crying about a conspiracy that doesn't exist, which isn't exactly new ground for him. It says in the article that Disney stated a year ago they wouldn't carry the movie and Miramax made the deal anyway hoping they'd forget or something. Disney didn't go back on their word... they kept it.

Farley and Belushi are taken away in their prime yet Moore's heart continues to pump bacon grease in and out. God has a brutal sense of humor sometimes.
The Amazing Salami
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#6 Posted on 5.5.04 0911.51
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0911.58
    Originally posted by DrDirt
      Originally posted by Grimis
      Disney has every right to not distribute it, especially giving the content.

      I'm not going to cry for Michael Moore though. He has made millions off this stuff over the years. He'll find a distributor for it.

        Originally posted by Michael Moore
        `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?' "
      Except that Disney is a private company and can distibute or not distribute whatever products are in the best interest of the company.


    Grimis, I thought Disney was a publically traded company. The key in the article was that Disney thought it was bad for business. It is their right. What troubles me is the fact that we have our men and women losing their lives overseas to protect freedom yet we stifle free speech at home. This may be full or errors and totally biased, Moore may be a dick, but he has the right to put the film out and the public has the right to accept or reject it.


The Constitution insures us that the GOVERNMENT won't stifle speech. What a non-government entity chooses to do or not to do in their own best interest has nothing to do with the Freedom of Speech.

Moore can still distribute his film....just not through this company. His speech is not being stifled by the government...just by this company. And this company has every right to do so.

Hell, the fact that Moore's quotes are in a newspaper and on this board show that he has freedom of speech, right?

This is easy to understand yet we somehow throw this freedom of speech argument in the mix any time something like this happens.
Von Maestro
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#7 Posted on 5.5.04 0916.31
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0916.52
    Originally posted by DrDirt
    Grimis, I thought Disney was a publicly traded company. The key in the article was that Disney thought it was bad for business. It is their right. What troubles me is the fact that we have our men and women losing their lives overseas to protect freedom yet we stifle free speech at home. This may be full or errors and totally biased, Moore may be a dick, but he has the right to put the film out and the public has the right to accept or reject it.


Doc-

What I think Grimis is saying by calling them a "private company" is that they are not funded by the government. In that regard, their decision to not release this film (I refuse to call anything by Moore a "documentary" :-) is not a limit of the Constitutional protection of free speech.
Grimis
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#8 Posted on 5.5.04 0927.30
Reposted on: 5.5.11 0927.31
    Originally posted by Von Maestro
    What I think Grimis is saying by calling them a "private company" is that they are not funded by the government. In that regard, their decision to not release this film (I refuse to call anything by Moore a "documentary" :-) is not a limit of the Constitutional protection of free speech.
Bingo.
    Originally posted by Barbwire Mike
    Farley and Belushi are taken away in their prime yet Moore's heart continues to pump bacon grease in and out. God has a brutal sense of humor sometimes.
This is going to be my new sig.

(edited by Grimis on 5.5.04 1028)
DrDirt
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#9 Posted on 5.5.04 1000.07
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1000.19
I apologize for any confusion. Disney has the right to do anything legally they want. They aren't violating the Constitution. My problem is an overall tenor from both sides of these issues that bad mouth and want to stifle divergent opinions.

As to Moore himself, provided he can get the ights and take it ellsewhere, this helps not hurts his film.
Grimis
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#10 Posted on 5.5.04 1054.15
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1054.38
    Originally posted by DrDirt
    My problem is an overall tenor from both sides of these issues that bad mouth and want to stifle divergent opinions.

    As to Moore himself, provided he can get the ights and take it ellsewhere, this helps not hurts his film.
I don't think it's stifling divergent opinions anymore than the newsmagazine shows being overtly liberal.

I find this more analogous to conservative book publishing. Lots of conservatives were trying to publish books and not all of them were being taken by the publishing houses. It's why Regnery Publishing is now one of the leading publishers of Conservative texts.

The point is that if you work is good enough and somebody wants to make it available to others, it will be seen or heard. Especially when you have the weight of Michael Moore.
RYDER FAKIN
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#11 Posted on 5.5.04 1105.53
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1106.23
I didn't see this in the report above, but the quote below was included in CNN's Report Click Here (money.cnn.com)

Moore describes "Fahrenheit 9/11" as a comedy, and, according to Variety, the film examines the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and paints the Bush administration in an unflattering light.

Anyone else find humor in 9/11?

And if he is crying the blues (again) about the distribution of a controversial film and he *cares* so much about the "vehicle", why not grow a set of balls like Gibson and work off his own money? I'm sure that question is rhetorical...

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#12 Posted on 5.5.04 1114.23
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1114.48
It is, of course, well within Disney's legal rights to do this. It's shitty that they're being bullied into this position by Dubya's crooked-ass baby brother but, really, what else is new in this country.

Here's, however, what I think you don't realize about the film industry. See, a studio can easily buy the "shelve rights" to a film, meaning under the terms of a multi-year contract, the studio can have full authority over the usage of the film through the length of the contract, including distrubution. Under the most stringent terms, the studio has the right to not only not release the film, but forbid the filmmaker from going to another distrubutor. It's to protect the profit of a studio that financed the film but doesn't think it will make a profit at the current time, but it can easily allow a studio to deliberately make sure certain films are never released.

I'm sure there would be a lawsuit if it came to this, and I'm sure the movie will see the light of day someday, but it wouldn't be until well after the election which is the entire point of the movie in the first place. And, probably, the real game plan here.

But it doesn't matter anyway because MICHAEL MOORE IS A FATTY! What doesn't he just die - he's so fat!!! I love political discourse in America!
bash91
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#13 Posted on 5.5.04 1141.55
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1143.58
    Originally posted by OlFuzzyBastard
    It is, of course, well within Disney's legal rights to do this. It's shitty that they're being bullied into this position by Dubya's crooked-ass baby brother but, really, what else is new in this country.


Um, no. The real bully, or incompetent hack, take your pick, in this case is Ari Emanuel, Moore's agent. I can't believe I'm typing this, but Disney is actually the good guy in this scenario. Both sides agree that Disney informed Moore or his agent that Disney and their subsidiaries would not be distributing the movie. What's the agent do? He sells the movie to Miramax, so that he and Moore can use the ensuing cries of censorship and conservative bullying as free advertising rather than trying to craft an ad campaign for their nonpartisan comedy. Disney isn't locking the movie down, they are merely saying that "We are not going to distribute it." As near as I can tell, the only ones really getting hurt by this are Harvey Weinstein, who deserves it for buying the movie knowing he wouldn't be able to distribute it, Disney, who is getting the usual cries from the left, and Jeb Bush, who is getting attacked based on the story of an incompetent hack who represents a film-maker who despises the Bush family.

Tim

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#14 Posted on 5.5.04 1148.02
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1148.17
    Originally posted by bash91
    What's the agent do? He sells the movie to Miramax, so that he and Moore can use the ensuing cries of censorship and conservative bullying as free advertising...


Damn. That's a pretty genius idea. Next time I need an agent I'll know who to call.
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#15 Posted on 5.5.04 1226.37
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1227.49
    Originally posted by OlFuzzyBastard
    I'm sure there would be a lawsuit if it came to this, and I'm sure the movie will see the light of day someday, but it wouldn't be until well after the election which is the entire point of the movie in the first place. And, probably, the real game plan here.
If they did sell the rights to Disney, then they have no legal claim to those rights. There is no lawsuit here. Moore's people obviously screwed up.
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#16 Posted on 5.5.04 1251.42
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1251.52
It seems like any lawsuit issues would be predicated on the line "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.

Now not seeing the contract myself I don't know if there is a specific list of reasons they can refuse distribution of a film or if there is simply a clause that says "we can refuse to distribute anything at our choosing." If it's the former, he has a case possibly. If it's the latter, I see nothing legally wrong. Sure I think they're egg-sucking cowards at Disney, but legally I can't argue if that's the way it is.
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#17 Posted on 5.5.04 1318.27
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1319.04
    Originally posted by bash91
    What's the agent do? He sells the movie to Miramax, so that he and Moore can use the ensuing cries of censorship and conservative bullying as free advertising...


I assume Fahrenheit 911 is a play on the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451, which at its core is about censorship. So it would seem to me that this whole thing could have been orchestrated from the start. Because controversy sells better than any ad campaign.
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#18 Posted on 5.5.04 1318.27
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1319.04
    Originally posted by bash91
    What's the agent do? He sells the movie to Miramax, so that he and Moore can use the ensuing cries of censorship and conservative bullying as free advertising...


I assume Fahrenheit 911 is a play on the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451, which at its core is about censorship. So it would seem to me that this whole thing could have been orchestrated from the start. Because controversy sells better than any ad campaign.
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#19 Posted on 5.5.04 1321.10
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1322.34
It just proves, Disney is a bunch of morons for even letting Miramax greenlight this film. They probably spent a few million making this film and then they opt not to release this film even though Bowling for Columbine was a huge hit and won the oscar. The money they would make on opening weekend would pay for the amount they spent and the rest is gravey. It shocks me that they use the excuse from a business it would be bad. Sorry, Disney, but business hasn't bee good for awhile.

Miramax has been the one making most of the money for rat in the movie industry since the Disney animated films sans recently leaving Pixar have been flops. The parks are keeping them afloat, but for how long, who knows. Its also not a good sign that ComCast made a bid and was considering dumping the parks entirely. Disney is just shooting itself in the foot again all the while trying to look squeeky clean.

They are taking the movie to Cannes, so we should get an idea over the summer what it is about. So, before the right wingers once again damn Moore to hell even though he has the same free rights as Fox News and the Republican control radio.
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#20 Posted on 5.5.04 1336.52
Reposted on: 5.5.11 1337.32
Well, chances are that Disney will sell off their interest in the film, as tons of folks will want to see it now. United Artists distributed Bowling for Columbine in the States, but chances are that Alliance Atlantis will distribute Fahrenheit 911 in Canada and abroad (much like they did with Bowling For Columbine)

EDIT: Browsing through Alliance's archives, they seem to be a lightning rod for controversial films like...Elephant, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Super Size Me, Storytelling, Max and Irreversible

And then...there's Newmarket Films, who distributed (among others) The Passion of The Christ. Equinoxe Entertainment handled the Passion in Canada, so they're another option.

(edited by Freeway420 on 5.5.04 1252)
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