LOS ANGELES – Miramax Films (search) chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein plan to buy back Michael Moore's (search) "Fahrenheit 9-11" — which Walt Disney Co. (DIS) blocked Miramax from releasing — and distribute it themselves.
Under the deal, the brothers, who have a thorny relationship with parent company Disney, would not be able to distribute the movie through Miramax. They would have to find a third-party company.
Disney chief executive Michael Eisner (search) said last week that the company "did not want a film in the middle of the political process" because he believed that theme park and entertainment consumers "do not look for us to take sides."
Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein (search) spent about $6 million on the film. He and his brother would have to repay Disney for the investment, and would likely insist on a deal that cuts Disney out of any future profits.
A similar deal was worked out in 1999 when Disney forced Miramax to give up filmmaker Kevin Smith's "Dogma," which took an irreverent approach to Catholicism with modern prophets, angels and apostles in a bid to stop the end of the world. Lions Gate Films eventually picked up "Dogma."
"We're very happy that Disney has agreed to sell `Fahrenheit 9-11' to Bob and Harvey," Miramax said in a statement. "Bob and Harvey look forward to promptly completing this transaction."
Eisner confirmed the planned deal Wednesday afternoon in a conference call with financial analysts. He also lamented the negative press he and Disney received by refusing the film. "There's not much that we can do with Miramax that's not carried in the press," he said.
In France, "Fahrenheit 9-11" was making its world premiere Wednesday as one of 18 films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where many new movies find business partners for distribution.
Moore did not immediately return a call for comment.
The confrontational director won an Academy Award for his 2002 documentary "Bowling for Columbine," about the Columbine High School shooting and U.S. gun control policy. The film earned $21.5 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing documentary ever.