Disney 'blocks' new Michael Moore documentary

The controversial film-maker's anti-Bush polemic is 'on hold' after a row between Disney and Miramax.

Oscar-winning film-maker Michael Moore's latest documentary may be in cold storage following a reported row between its distributor, Miramax, and parent company Disney.

According to the industry newspaper Variety, the Walt Disney Company has moved to prevent the company run by the Weinstein brothers from releasing Fahrenheit 911, which links US president George Bush to Osama bin Laden and members of other powerful Saudi business families.

The follow-up to the anti-gun film Bowling for Columbine is still set to premiere at the Cannes film festival later this month, but does not currently appear on Miramax's summer schedule. There had been suggestions of a July release.

If true, Disney's move to block the new film's release would not be the first time Moore has been censored. In 2001, the release of the comedian and satirist's book Stupid White Men was blocked by publisher HarperCollins, who threatened to pulp printed copies, arguing that the book's attack on the US government was inappropriate in the months after September 11. Following a campaign by Moore, the book was eventually published and went on to top the New York Times bestseller list.

A Miramax spokesman told Variety the company was "looking forward to resolving this amicably". Disney itself was unavailable for comment, said the paper.

Fahrenheit 911 was originally the subject line of a February 2002 email from Moore to supporters accusing HarperCollins of failing to publish Stupid White Men because of its criticism of Mr Bush.

Moore has been relentless in his criticism of the government and used his Oscar acceptance speech in 2003 to further condemn the administration, calling Mr Bush "a fictitious president".

[article.homepage.prefix]: http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,12589,1209992,00.html

add a comment on this article

Floridians subsidize this fascism

jeb 05.May.2004 15:46

"Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax
breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in
Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."

just a question

£ 05.May.2004 16:39

Can we help Moore get his movie out?

Online CNN Pole

cnn 05.May.2004 18:01


Should Disney release Michael Moore's documentary critical of President Bush?

Call Disney

Common Cause 05.May.2004 22:25

CauseNET for May 5, 2004

In yet another case of corporate media censorship, executives at Disney have decided not to distribute filmmaker Michael Moore's new documentary entitled, "Fahrenheit 911". Moore's new film is highly critical of the financial ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family as well as the action taken by the government in secretly evacuating relatives of Osama bin Laden out of the country immediately after the attacks on September 11.

Published reports indicate that although the movie is ready for release, Miramax studios have been told by parent company Disney that it has decided to ban distribution of the film.

Why? According to one Disney executive, "It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle".

Last week, it was Sinclair Broadcasting gagging Ted Koppel, by pre-empting Nightline's tribute to the Iraq war dead on its ABC affiliates, claiming that the program was partisan. Now Disney bans distribution of a politically charged film. Are we going further and further down the road where corporations determine all that people should see?

The more that media is concentrated in the hands of a few huge corporate owners, the more likely we'll see this type of corporate censorship. One of the bedrocks of democracy is the freedom to express all ideas, no matter how controversial. When ideas are suppressed, our freedoms are diluted. Think of how outraged we'd be if the local library cleared its shelves of all controversial books.

Is Michael Moore's film good, bad, or indifferent? Will it offend some people? Probably. But how will the public ever know? How can the public decide the merits when a handful of corporate executives decide for us?

Call today! Tell Disney what you think about this latest move to blindfold you. Contact the Walt Disney Company at:
(818) 560-1000.
Tell them you would like the office of Chief Executive Michael Eisner.

Or Write a Letter to the Editor of Your Local Paper:

Michael Moore Film Faces Disney Censorship

FAIR 05.May.2004 23:23

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism


Michael Moore Film Faces Disney Censorship

May 5, 2004

The Disney corporation is forbidding its subsidiary, Miramax Films, to
distribute Michael Moore's new documentary, the New York Times reported

The film, Fahrenheit 911, explores the Bush family's close personal and
financial ties to the Saudi royal family, and describes how the current
Bush administration helped evacuate relatives of Osama bin Laden from the
United States after the September 11 attacks in 2001. A Disney executive
told the New York Times that it was blocking the distribution of the film
in the United States and Canada because, in the paper's words, "Disney
caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's
film...could alienate many."

The executive is quoted: "It's not in the interest of any major
corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political

Given that corporations like Disney control much of the public discussion
in the U.S., this avowed unwillingness to air controversial viewpoints
that might challenge the views of some customers is chilling enough. But
Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, charges that Disney has an even more
disturbing reason for blocking the film. According to Emanuel, he had a
conversation last spring with Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, who
asked him to cancel his deal with Miramax and "expressed particular
concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme
park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb,
is governor."

Disney may have another reason, not mentioned by the Times, to reject a
film that might offend the Saudi royal family: A powerful member of the
family, Al-Walid bin Talal, owns a major stake in Eurodisney and has been
instrumental in the past in bailing out the financially troubled amusement
park (AFP, 6/1/94). The project is facing a new cash crunch, and Al-Walid
has been mentioned as a potential rescuer again (L.A. Times, 1/26/04).

Whatever Disney's motivations for not wanting to release the film, it's
not because there is no audience waiting to see it. Moore's last film,
Bowling for Columbine, grossed $58 million worldwide. Unfortunately, when
giant corporations are making the decisions, the fact that millions of
people might want to see a film doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be
able to-- if that film might conflict with the corporation's other

ACTION: Please contact Disney and urge the company to allow Miramax to
distribute Fahrenheit 911.

George Mitchell
The Walt Disney Company
mailto: george.mitchell@piperrudnick.com
Phone: 818-560-1000

For another action on this subject, see Act for Change: