Michael Moore had to undertake an odyssey to get there, but his “Fahrenheit 9/11” will be available to at least a million homes on pay-per-view Monday, the night before Election Day.
Three weeks ago, Moore had reached an agreement with the largest distributor of PPV events, In Demand, to carry the movie as the linchpin of a three-hour “Michael Moore Pre-Election Special.”
That deal fell apart a week later. Moore claimed the Republican Party had strong-armed In Demand into canceling the deal; company said it bowed out due to “legitimate business and legal concerns.” Analysts said In Demand got spooked by the furor over Sinclair Broadcasting’s plan to air “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” an anti-Kerry docu, on all 62 of its stations the week before the election.
Hammered by stockholders and advertisers, Sinclair ended up scheduling a much more balanced program, using only brief excerpts from “Stolen Honor.”
With In Demand out of the picture, the owner of “Fahrenheit,” Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s Fellowship Adventure Group, has engineered a deal with Los Angeles-based TVN Entertainment to carry “Fahrenheit 9/11,” with no extras, for two runs Monday at 8 and 11 p.m. ET (5 and 8 p.m. PT). TVN is in the business of delivering PPV movies and events to cable systems owned by a number of operators in the U.S., including Comcast and Charter.
Neil Goldberg, senior VP of programming for TVN, was elated over the deal, saying he couldn’t remember ever getting his hands on a $120 million-grossing movie a month before its normal PPV window, which in the case of “Fahrenheit” begins Dec. 1.
Fellowship is insisting on a retail price of $9.95, which Goldberg regards as appropriate because of the early window and the pre-Election Day timing. Due to the closeness of the presidential race and the record number of people registered to vote, TVN said lots of subscribers may jump at the chance to buy “Fahrenheit.”
Saturation ad campaign
To make people aware of the “Fahrenheit” cablecast on such short notice, Goldberg said TVN will blanket its cable systems with ad slicks for use as newspaper ads and with 30-second spots for a saturation TV/cable advertising campaign over the weekend.
Goldberg said the Weinsteins are free to take the election eve showing of the movie to the two satellite-TV distributors in the U.S., DirecTV and EchoStar.
EchoStar is leaning strongly toward carrying the movie, although a company spokesman would say only that it has an affinity for pics that gross more than $100 million in U.S. multiplexes.
DirecTV nixes ‘9/11’
DirecTV also loves big-grossing theatricals, but a spokesman for the company said that it has passed on “Fahrenheit,” adding that political considerations had nothing to do with the decision. (Rupert Murdoch, an outspoken conservative, runs DirecTV.)
While EchoStar mulls its decision on “Fahrenheit,” the satcaster will carry the theatrical docus “George W. Bush: Faith in the White House” and “Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry” on PPV through Wednesday at a retail price of $3.99.