Michael Moore Mystery: Will Harvey Weinstein Back 'Where to Invade Next'?
Sources say the mogul, once the target of the filmmaker's lawyers, could help release the documentary, which has a distributor but not a release date.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Mystery shrouds Michael Moore's new movie, Where to Invade Next. After a splashy opening-night premiere Sept. 10 at the Toronto Film Festival, Moore was forced to wait nearly a month to announce a buyer. And now the distributor, a new label headed by former Radius-TWC chiefs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, has yet to announce a release date for the hot-button documentary, raising questions about the unnamed company's financial backing.
Sources say Moore's film — which makes a satirical argument that the American dream is alive and well everywhere but America — will get an Oscar-qualifying run in December in New York and Los Angeles, followed by a wide release in January. But speculation is mounting that Quinn, Janego and League still are putting together financing for the new company, leaving Where to Invade in a precarious position.
The much-hyped film was expected to sell quickly, with WME's Ari Emanuel setting a $10 million price tag and handling the deal personally. But the latest from Moore, who won a best documentary Oscar for 2002's Bowling for Columbine, found little traction among the distributors best poised to handle a wide release. Several buyers passed because it is missing the key element that Moore fans love: "It lacks a villain," says one.
Netflix is said to have made a quick mid-seven-figure offer at Toronto, but that was nixed by Moore, who insisted that his film be seen in the multiplex. "It makes a big difference when you see it in a big theater with 100 people rather than in front of your computer," Moore told THR. But with no major distributors clamoring, Where to Invade languished for nearly three weeks before the new distributor struck.
When Quinn and Janego unexpectedly exited The Weinstein Co. in August, a TWC source insisted that the split was amicable and that Harvey Weinstein planned to invest in the pair's new company, a point that neither Quinn nor Janego would confirm. Now, as Where to Invade idles, talk is building that Weinstein, who passed on the film at Toronto, will come aboard after all. That would be ironic considering Moore sued Weinstein over profits from his most successful film, Fahrenheit 9/11 (the case settled in 2012). A TWC rep declined comment.
One insider says the film's vague release plans are similar to Radius' Citizenfour, which won this year's best doc Oscar, but Citizenfour never got wide distribution. Still another insider is baffled by Moore's decisions regarding Invade's sale and release. "This film needs all the love it can get," says the insider. "I don't think he understands that."