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May 5, 2004 2:00 AM
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Disney Stops Miramax From Releasing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911"

Disney Stops Miramax From Releasing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911"

by Eugene Hernandez









Michael Moore is stopped by the Secret Service outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C., in a scene from his new film, "Fahrenheit 911". © MichaelMoore.com

The Walt Disney Company will not allow its specialty division, Miramax Films, to distribute Michael Moore's anticipated new documentary "Fahrenheit 911," the director said early today. Moore announced the news to his large Internet audience with a letter entitled, "Disney Has Blocked the Distribution of My New Film." The movie, which was financed by Miramax, is set to have its world premiere later this month at the Cannes Film Festival.

Moore indicated, on his website, that yesterday he was informed that Disney would not allow Miramax to distribute the new documentary that takes aim at the Bush administration. Moore has said that the film includes an exploration of links between President Bush and Osama bin Laden's family, as well as criticism of the war in Iraq. Moore has also indicated his intention to have the new film in U.S. theaters before the upcoming presidential election, perhaps as early as this summer.

Citing an article in today's New York Times, Michael Moore added that Disney's reason for the decision is to preserve the tax breaks that it receives from the state of Florida and President Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

During a recent discussion about the movie at the Full Frame Documentary Festival, Moore indicated that Mel Gibson's Icon Productions dropped its funding of the movie after getting a warning call from the White House. Miramax later stepped in with money for Moore to make the film, with what insiders have said included an option to distribute the movie.

"The whole story behind this (and other attempts) to kill our movie will be told in more detail as the days and weeks go on," wrote Moore on his website. "For nearly a year, this struggle has been a lesson in just how difficult it is in this country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge (well, OK, sorry -- it WILL upset them...big time. Did I mention it's a comedy?)." Continuing, Moore added, "All I can say is, thank God for Harvey Weinstein and Miramax who have stood by me during the entire production of this movie."

Miramax spokesperson Matthew Hiltzik issued a statement to the New York Times, saying, "We're discussing the issue with Disney. We're looking at all of our options and look forward to resolving this amicably."

"There is much more to tell," noted Moore in his letter today, adding that he is currently completing lab work on the print of the film in preparation for the debut in Cannes. "I will tell you this," he added in his letter, "Some people may be afraid of this movie because of what it will show. But there's nothing they can do about it now because it's done, it's awesome, and if I have anything to say about it, you'll see it this summer -- because, after all, it is a free country."

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