The Mouse House has moved to prevent subsid Miramax from distributing Michael Moore’s controversial documentary “Fahrenheit 911.”
The Disney dictate could herald the bloodiest political battle yet between Harvey Weinstein and Disney CEO Michael Eisner.
Pic examines the period around the 2001 terrorist attacks and paints the Bush administration in an unflattering light.
Pic will still premiere in competition at Cannes this month.
While Miramax marketing staff has been working on promotional material to support the Cannes premiere, the company has at no point confirmed its intention to distribute the political hot potato.
“Fahrenheit” does not appear on Miramax’s summer schedule but rumors had been circulating of a July release date.
It was perhaps only a matter of time before the Disney veto came down on a film that links George W. Bush with powerful Saudi families including that of Osama bin Laden.
Moore’s agent Ari Emmanuel pointed out to Daily Variety that “Bowling for Columbine” cost only $3 million but brought in $120 million (with DVD). He said Eisner’s decision in this case is thus financially wrongheaded as well as politically obtuse.
Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik told Daily Variety that the company was “looking forward to resolving this amicably.” He added that a hybrid solution similar to that of “Dogma” — on which another indie, Lions Gate, handled physical distribution while Miramax controlled marketing — is being studied.
However, given current tensions over the renegotiation of Miramax co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s contracts with Disney, Eisner might not be so willing to agree to such an arrangement this time.