Tag Archives: michael moore

Michael Moore to tackle economy

When Paramount Vantage and Overture announced Michael Moore’s long-gestating follow-up to “Fahrenheit 9/11” in May, executives stressed the film’s foreign-policy scope. “This is going to tackle what’s going on in the world and America’s place in it,” Paramount Vantage chief Nick Meyer said.

But as the political winds shifted in the months before the election — and gusted after it — Moore subtly began reorienting his movie. Instead of foreign policy, the film’s focus now is more on the global financial crisis and the U.S. economy.

The untitled movie will contain an end-of-the-empire tone, say those familiar with the project, and Moore no doubt hopes that this will give it a more general feel that will untether it from a specific political moment.

But some political and entertainment experts wonder how much Moore’s incredulousness and occasional pessimism about the state of U.S. policy, which served the filmmaker well during the George W. Bush years, will play in the current hopeful climate brought on President-elect Barack Obama.

“If Moore offers a prescription for how to improve things, he may indeed find an audience that at this moment is eager for change,” said Craig Minassian, an entertainment consultant and former Bill Clinton aide. “But it’s going to be hard for him. What this election shows is what’s right with America, and sometimes what Michael Moore does is highlight what’s wrong with America.”

In the meantime, a focus on the collapsing markets brings its own risk, Minassian said. “The problem with the financial crisis is that it’s changing so quickly. I’m not sure how relevant is going to be in six months, and I’m not sure if people want to hear it; my sense is they already have a pretty good idea of a lot of the people who are to blame for it.”

An election favoring the Democrats would remove some of the factors that put Moore in vogue both in the U.S. and abroad during the Bush years — and pushed his three theatrical movies during that time to more than $300 million in worldwide boxoffice.

It’s worth noting that Moore famously shoots a lot of footage and makes many critical decisions later in the production process, so the tone could still shift; it’s tricky to know what any Moore movie will ultimately look like before he completes the film.

Overture and Vantage declined comment.

Still, Moore is feverishly shooting, and the movie is expected to come out as early as this spring, with Vantage and Overture hoping to capitalize on the current high levels of political awareness.

Moore has also said that in some ways he sees the movie less as a sequel to the Middle East-themed “Fahrenheit 9/11” than as a bookend to “Roger & Me,” the director’s breakthrough nearly two decades ago. That movie featured the U.S. economy and the auto industry at its center, and that, if nothing else, could again prove a timely theme.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Michael Moore pic sells well overseas

Paramount Vantage has completed international sales of Michael Moore’s follow-up to his record-busting political documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Vantage president Nick Meyer announced Moore’s sequel-of-sorts two weeks ago on the eve of this year’s Festival de Cannes, where the documentarian won the Palme d’Or in 2004.

Alex Walton, senior vp international sales for Vantage, announced sales of Moore’s film to Germany, Benelux, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, Ex-Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Iceland, Singapore, Indonesia, CIS, the Middle East, Portugal, Israel and India. Paramount Pictures International will distribute the film in France and Australia.

The Oscar-winning Moore has just begun production on the film, a broader examination of America’s foreign policy and tarnished status in the world throughout the Bush administration. “Fahrenheit” grossed $220 million worldwide, the largest boxoffice haul for a documentary.

Vantage will co-produce and co-finance the new movie with Overture Films, which will release the film domestically.

As part of its recent international distribution deal with Overture, Vantage also repped overseas sales for “Last Chance Harvey” and “Traitor.” International rights to “Harvey,” starring Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, were sold during Cannes to France, Italy, Singapore and Indonesia. Overture will release the film domestically in December. “Traitor,” starring Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle and Jeff Daniels, was sold in Scandinavia. Overture will release it in the U.S. on Aug. 29.

Vantage also closed deals this year for Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” in Germany, Italy, Spain and CIS. Paramount Pictures will release the film in late 2009.

Forthcoming Vantage releases include the Sundance documentary “American Teen,” “The Duchess,” “Defiance” and “Revolutionary Road.”

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Michael Moore making ‘9/11’ sequel

Michael Moore is making a sequel to “Fahrenheit 9/11” for Paramount Vantage and Overture Films, who 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 documentary, which will be released in 2009. 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” — but Overture and Vantage are no strangers to the filmmaker. Overture CEO Chris McGurk and COO 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 after Disney refused to let Miramax to do so. Lionsgate again teamed with the Weinstein’s to distribute Moore’s last docu, “Sicko.”

Also, Moore is no stranger to the Croisette. “Fahrenheit,” a scathing indictment of George W. Bush’s war on terrorism and a hit at the worldwide box office, won the coveted Palm d’Or in 2004. “Bowling for Columbine” also played at Cannes, while “Sicko” premed here last year.

It’s possible that his new docu could play at Cannes next year, if it isn’t released earlier in the Spring. He’s already at work on the docu.

“Clearly, we have a movie of global appeal here. Michael Moore is a very talented filmmaker, and this is a branded property,” Meyer said.

Sequel will pick up where “Fahrenheit” left off. In the time since, President 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.”

All in all, Moore has made three of the top five grossing documentaries of all time. “Fahrenheit” 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 the box office. 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.

Landing the “Fahrenheit” sequel is a high-profile score for Overture and Vantage, and a likely blow for the Weinstein Co.

Deal strengthens the already established 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.

Source: Variety

Michael Moore endorses Barack Obama

Michael Moore wants voters in Pennsylvania to cast their ballots for Barack Obama.

Moore endorsed Obama in a 1,100-word posting on his Web site Monday. It includes praise for the Illinois senator and harsh words for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party and the Bush administration.

Lamenting the lack of a valid primary in his home state of Michigan, Moore writes that Obama’s experience and voting record aren’t as important as his “basic decency” and ability to inspire.

“What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change,” Moore writes. “My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.”

The Oscar-winning filmmaker was hardly as kind to Clinton.

“Over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting,” he writes, saying that she has tried to “smear” Obama — “Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity.”

Most of Moore’s ire is directed at the Bush administration “and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world.”

“I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for eight long years,” he writes. “That’s why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters — that big ‘D’ on the ballot.”

Moore says he is disappointed with the Democratic Party, too, for failing to end the war despite public outcry and for “do(ing) the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgment ….”

Moore declined to elaborate further when contacted by the Associated Press.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Michael Moore documentary sheds light on his controversial filmmaking tactics

TORONTO (CP) _ Canadians Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine still remember with glee watching documentarian Michael Moore assail President George W. Bush for waging a "fictitious war" against Iraq when the filmmaker won an Oscar in 2003.

Four years later, the husband-and-wife filmmaking team would never have dreamed that their own documentary about Moore would prompt the American right-wing media to try to claim them as poster children for the anti-Moore, pro-Bush cause.

"That Oscar speech _ when he did that, we were standing in our living room literally on our feet applauding," Caine recalled Thursday. "At that time, four days into the Iraq war, 80 per cent of the American public was onside with that war. So it was an incredibly courageous thing to do at that juncture."

Filled with admiration, the couple set out to make a film about their hero, who first became a darling of the left with "Roger and Me." That 1989 documentary centred on Moore’s supposedly unsuccessful attempts to get GM president Roger Smith to talk to him about the devastating effects on Flint, Mich., after the carmaker closed down a plant there.

What they discovered about Moore’s techniques as they began to research the portly filmmaker stunned and disappointed them. Their journey can be seen in "Manufacturing Dissent," a startling documentary screening Sunday night at Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival, running till April 29.

"It was a slow reveal, really," Melnyk says. "We go into things and start to research them as we go along and start to do interviews with people, and we started to realize: ‘Oh my God, there are some cheats in these films.’ Obviously, the biggest one being that Michael actually did talk to Roger Smith twice during the making of ‘Roger and Me.’

"That one really, really bothered me. Because, OK, if you’re willing to lie about the entire premise of the film, then what is sacrosanct? There must have been other smaller cheats along the way. So that was a shocker."

Moore, for his part, hasn’t commented on "Manufacturing Dissent," suggesting recently to a New York film website, www.thereeler.com, that he’d never heard of it _ even though, as shown in the documentary, Melnyk approached him at various public events over two years to plead for an interview.

"There are a lot of films made about me … there’s probably nine or 10 of them out there," he told a reporter for the website.

Such apparent disingenuousness is par for the course for Moore, according to those who spoke on camera to Melnyk and Caine. Indeed, the couple say the dishonesty about Roger Smith wasn’t the only false note in "Roger and Me" _ an entire segment featuring an ABC news reporter telling viewers how a disgruntled autoworker had driven off with the network’s satellite truck was a fake.

The reporter was a friend of Moore’s and agreed to stage the phoney report as a favour to him, they say.

"The story never happened to begin with, but then to trot out the unemployed autoworker as the culprit _ that really had political motivation written all over it and it wasn’t necessary. There were other stories out there to be had; he didn’t need to make one up," Caine says.

With those sorts of revelations _ "Manufacturing Dissent" unveils similar questionable tactics used in Moore’s "Fahrenheit 9-11" and his Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine" _ it’s no wonder American right-wing news organizations, longtime Moore foes, quickly came calling after the film screened last month at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

Several Fox News shows were keen to book the couple for some on-air Moore-bashing. They agreed to go on a live Fox show _ but only to prevent their comments from being edited to fit what they feel is the network’s political agenda.

The couple came out with guns blazing on Fox’s "The Live Desk" with host Martha MacCallum.

"We said: ‘This is crap. We do not want to become poster kids for the right-wing media. No, we haven’t seen the light and converted.’ That is exactly what they were thinking," Melnyk says. "But we were intent on telling them that it’s not only Michael Moore who is lying and cheating, it’s mainstream news organizations and George Bush."

Adds Caine with a laugh: "I could hear a person in New York screaming into my earpiece: ‘Get that asshole off the air.’ They cut us off."

The couple, in short, refused to bitterly attack Moore, even though his handlers once had them kicked out of the audience at one of his speeches.

"He really is media-savvy so he likes to know where everyone’s coming from," Melnyk says. "So he doesn’t know us from Adam. He doesn’t know our film. He couldn’t predict where we were going to go, and he really likes to have control of everything."

She sounds almost defensive of her erstwhile idol, yet Melnyk is also still clearly dismayed by what she discovered while making "Manufacturing Dissent."

"As a documentary filmmaker, we’re happy that he’s out there ringing the bell of documentaries, but he’s not doing any of us any good if he’s lying," she says. "There’s a trust between the audience and the filmmaker, and he’s breaking that trust, so now everyone’s out there thinking: ‘Oh, so that’s what people do when they make docs, and you must be doing it too.’ And that isn’t what documentaries are about."