Michael Moore plans '9/11' follow-up

Helmer working with Overture, Par Vantage

CANNES -- For Michael Moore, it's no longer a story of "Harvey & Me."

The documentarian is making a sequel to "Fahrenheit 9/11," but instead of turning to Harvey Weinstein for distribution, Moore will collaborate on the project with Overture Films and Paramount Vantage.

The companies will co-produce and co-finance the pic, with Overture releasing it in the U.S. on all platforms and Vantage handling international rights and release. The acquisition's price tag was not revealed.

Officially, the movie is untitled but will include the words "Fahrenheit 9/11 1/2" in its title. It is described as a "follow-up" to its predecessor, but unlike most sequels, Moore will not just pick up where the 2004 film left off. Instead, he will explore the role of the U.S. in the world, in areas ranging from foreign policy to industry, during the nearly eight years since President Bush took office.

"This is going to tackle what's going on in the world, and America's place in it," Par Vantage chief Nick Meyer said.

"Fahrenheit 9/11 was really about one event -- what led up it and what the consequences were," Overture's Danny Rosett said. "This is much broader."

Moore is just beginning production, with shooting likely to take place both in the U.S. and abroad. The movie is expected to be released sometime between the second quarter and early fourth-quarter of 2009 and, unlike "Fahrenheit," will not seek to influence the presidential contest. "Michael realizes this film is about a lot more than just one election," Rosett said.

While there's no footage available, Vantage execs will be discussing Moore's ideas for the pic with buyers in Cannes.

By joining forces with Overture and Vantage, Moore is, temporarily at least, parting company with Weinstein, who released "Fahrenheit 9/11" theatrically in collaboration with Lionsgate and IFC. Weinstein and Moore were involved in a highly publicized skirmish with the Weinsteins' then-parent company Disney, which refused to release the movie. The doc went on to become the most lucrative documentary in history, grossing more than $220 million worldwide. It also was the first doc to win the Palme d'Or since 1956.

"Sicko," which the Weinsteins released through Lionsgate last year, was a more modest success. The movie, which premiered at the Festival de Cannes a year ago, earned $35.8 million worldwide, much of it in the U.S. -- a high number for a doc but a figure far below "Fahrenheit's" high-water mark. Both Harvey and Bob Weinstein will, however, be given exec producer credits, and the Weinsteins will get an "in association with" credit on the new pic.

TWC and Moore had talked about the project in recent weeks but couldn't come to an agreement on elements like price or the timing of a post-election release.

The Moore film is separate from the overall Overture-Vantage pact, which gives Overture the option to employ Vantage for international sales representation.

Execs at Vantage and Overture stressed the history between some of the principals and Moore: Par topper John Lesher at one time repped the provocateur filmmaker, while Overture heads Chris McGurk and Rosett were execs at MGM/UA when UA released "Bowling for Columbine."

"The Weinstein Co. was clearly instrumental with turning Michael and "Fahrenheit 9/11" into a global brand," Meyer said. "(But) people decide to make movies at different places at different times in their career and at different moments. We're completely deferential to what they were able to do with '9/11.' "
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