Michael Moore's Embattled 'Fahrenheit 9/11' To Be Released In June

Anti-Bush flick picked up by Lions Gate, IFC Films.

On June 25, U.S. audiences will finally get a chance to see the film that set the Cannes Film Festival abuzz and Disney's boardroom ablaze when Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is released nationwide.

Miramax Films' Bob and Harvey Weinstein said on Tuesday that the controversial film will be released in theaters by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and IFC Films. Cable television network Showtime will handle rights for pay TV. (MTV's parent company, Viacom, also owns Showtime.) The deal was finalized last week when the Weinsteins bought the rights to the film from the Walt Disney Co. for around $6 million, according to Reuters.

In early May, Disney refused to allow Miramax to release the film in theaters, claiming that Disney was not in a position to take sides in a political debate (see "Michael Moore's Anti-Bush 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Rescued By Miramax Heads"). IFC Films President Jonathan Sehring explained to Reuters IFC's decision to back the film, noting that "this film will cause debate, but that is also what this country is founded on."

"Fahrenheit 9/11," which examines the United States' reaction to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, links the Bush family to the bin Laden family and other Saudi groups. The film won the Palm d'Or — the top prize — at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

That the documentary will hit theaters just over five months before the 2004 presidential election is no coincidence. In May, Moore told Reuters that he hoped his film would influence the outcome of the election. "Everybody knows who I am and where I stand," he said. "Oh no, I'm not trying to pretend I'm being evenhanded with Bush."

Sehring said "Fahrenheit 9/11" was originally going to be released on July 2 to 500 theaters, but that the company decided to push the date ahead. The number of theaters that will screen the film on June 25 has yet to be determined.



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