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Toronto’s First Big Hit? Michael Moore’s ‘Where to Invade Next’ Draws Heat from Buyers (EXCLUSIVE)

Michael Moore Same Sex Marriage Decision
Cindy Ord/WireImage

Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” has turned into the first hot title of the Toronto Film Festival, with buyers staying up past 4 a.m. on Friday morning to gauge whether or not to pursue the documentary after its enthusiastic Thursday night premiere, Variety has learned.

The project has garnered interest from the major studios as well as specialized labels and studios like The Orchard, Lionsgate and IFC Films. The movie could end up making more money by selling territories to various players as opposed to one big worldwide sale, since it’s expected to perform well internationally.

On the other hand, Netflix is also among the parties interested, Variety has learned. Worldwide rights for the film are still available–and Netflix doesn’t buy projects that aren’t open in all territories, according to several knowledgable individuals. Moore spoke highly about the company during an after-party at Momofuku. “I think Netflix is the greatest invention since the history of the Internet, which enabled Netflix,” Moore said, with a chuckle.

Moore told Variety that his team was keeping him updated throughout Thursday night. A deal is not expected to close until Friday evening or later, as many studio chiefs and company heads have yet to see the film and sign off on a final offer. “They want us to wait,” Moore said.

The filmmaker’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” remains the highest-grossing documentary in history, having earned $119.2 million.

“Where to Invade Next” covers a range of topics from the benefits of female leadership to prison reform, making it a hot-button release at a time when Americans are gearing up for the 2016 presidential election. The film contrasts the U.S. approach to education, work weeks, and health care with European countries such as Finland, Germany and France. Critics are calling it one of his funniest films, and Moore said he had not received an emotional reaction to his work that was as intense since 1989’s “Roger & Me.” Executives say its commercial prospects are strong.

At the after-party on Thursday, Moore was flanked by well-wishers hoping to have their photos taken alongside the director. Partygoers inside and on the street pressed up to Moore to tell him how moved they had been by the picture.

WME is representing the sale.