Pic set for Egypt release after secret deal

CAIRO — Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″ is set to hit Egyptian screens Aug. 18, with Al Arabia Co. for Production & Distribution (ACPD) planning to take the traditional Arabic-lingo summer box office by surprise.

“We bought the film in Cannes from a Middle East distributor under confidentiality not to disclose the name or price — much below the rumored $50,000,” said Mohamed Amer, ACPD’s general manager. “Due to the summer rush, we are releasing five allowed English-language prints only at ACPD multiplexes in Cairo (and its) suburbs and possibly Alexandria.”

Film was hotly pursued by several local film distributors, including Youssef Chahine’s Misr Co., but ACPD, run by former actress Issaad Younus, made the announcement after “Fahrenheit” was passed by Egypt censors without cuts.

Film was banned in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia but played in neighboring Bahrain.

Amer said Egypt box office looks promising thanks to antipathy toward President Bush.

“We were thinking of releasing the film on Sept. 11 but were afraid of piracy, so we take this opportunity to launch the first of several foreign films we will distribute this year,” he said. “The Cairo Film Festival has expressed their wish to screen the film in November and invite Michael Moore to give him their highest award.”

“Fahrenheit 9/11″ is the first feature-length doc to receive commercial release in Egyptian theaters.

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