Tue., May 13, 2008
Michael Moore making '9/11' sequel
Documentary to be released in 2009
By PAMELA MCCLINTOCK, ANNE THOMPSON
Michael Moore is making a sequel to "Fahrenheit 9/11" for Overture Films and Paramount Vantage, which will shop the project to international buyers when the Cannes Film Festival and market get under way today.
The two companies are co-financing and co-producing the untitled doc, which will be released next year. Overture will distribute the film domestically, while Vantage will handle international.
Moore may be leaving the Weinstein Co. -- where he made his last two films, including "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- but Overture and Vantage are no strangers to the filmmaker. Overture CEO Chris McGurk and chief operating officer Danny Rosett were both at MGM and United Artists, home of Moore's "Bowling for Columbine."
Moore also knows Vantage topper Nick Meyer, former president of Lionsgate's international arm. Lionsgate teamed with Bob and Harvey Weinstein and distributed "Fahrenheit 9/11" after Disney refused to let Miramax do so. Lionsgate again teamed with the Weinsteins to distribute Moore's most recent docu, "Sicko."
"Fahrenheit 9/11," a scathing indictment of George W. Bush's war on terrorism and a hit at the worldwide box office, won the coveted Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2004. "Bowling for Columbine" also played at Cannes, and "Sicko" preemed at the fest last year.
Moore's new doc could play at Cannes next year, if it isn't released earlier in the spring. He's already at work on the film.
"Clearly, we have a movie of global appeal here. Michael Moore is a very talented filmmaker, and this is a branded property," Meyer said, adding that the Weinsteins helped build that brand.
Sequel will pick up where "Fahrenheit 9/11" left off. In the time since, Bush's popularity has plummeted, while the Iraq war continues and the economy falters.
"It's a vote of confidence on Michael's part and a great partnership for all of us," Rosett said. "There is a voracious appetite for this kind of commentary."
Moore has made three of the five top-grossing documentaries of all time. "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the highest-grossing docu ever domestically, earning $119.1 million. It grossed another $100 million at the international box office.
Moore's decision not to make his next film with the Weinstein Co. comes after "Sicko" failed to ignite at the box office. The film, which took on the U.S. health care system, grossed $24.5 million domestically and $11.2 million internationally. Topically, the film didn't resonate with overseas auds.
Deal strengthens the relationship between Vantage and Overture. Last year, the two entered into an exclusive international distribution deal that gives Overture access to Vantage's international sales division, as well as the distrib arm of Paramount Pictures Intl.
Vantage will likely keep distribution rights to certain overseas territories after selling off the rest.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein will get an exec producing credit.