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antiTainment NEWS: Disney May Sell Michael Moore Film To Miramax Heads


05-13-04 Keavin
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Miramax heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein reportedly plan to buy the controversial Michael Moore film “Fahrenheit 9-11” from Disney and find a third party to distribute it. Miramax parent Walt Disney Co. would not allow the Weinstein ran company to release and distributing the film. 

Miramax financed the movie to the tune of between $5 and $6 million. If the deal goes through, then the Weinstein’s would likey have to reimburse Disney for that investment. 

"Whatever current interests Miramax has in the film would be acquired by Bob and Harvey personally," Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha said, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Disney CEO Michael Eisner said last week that the company would not release the film because he believed that Disney customers "do not look for us to take sides" in the political process. 

This is not the first time that Disney refused to release a potentially controversial Miramax film. In 1999, Disney would not allow Miramax to release Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” because of content and humor that may have been offensive to Catholics. Lions Gate Films ultimately released the film. 

Eisner took a lot of heat over “censorship” concerns expressed by Moore and others. In response, he sent a letter to the New York Times Editors last Friday, refuting the claims of Disney censorship that were made in an editorial that they ran last Thursday. His letter follows: 

To the Editor:

You accuse the Walt Disney Company of cowardice and censorship because of its decision a year ago not to distribute Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11" (editorial, May 6). In fact, the cowardly thing would have been to be intimidated into distributing the film. We did not block its distribution. There are many avenues for Mr. Moore to pursue to get his film distributed.

Your accusations of stifling free expression are misplaced. The First Amendment does not say that The New York Times must print every article presented to it or that the Walt Disney Company must distribute every movie. If a government entity had blocked Mr. Moore's film from being released, that would have violated the First Amendment, and we would have quickly signed up to join any protest.

In the case of "Fahrenheit 9/11," we chose a path that was right for the company and its stakeholders.

The creation of intellectual product rises and falls on similar judgments by creative people and executives across America. We would hope that The Times would recognize that the Walt Disney Company has the same right of freedom of expression that it is advocating for Mr. Moore.

MICHAEL D. EISNER
Chief Exec., Walt Disney Company
Burbank, Calif., May 7, 2004
 
 

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