Michael Moore Mystery: Who's Paying to Release His New Film?

Michael Moore - H 2016
Courtesy of Dog Eat Dog Films

An elusive distributor and scuttled marketing for 'Where to Invade Next' raise questions as the movie limps into 300 theaters Feb. 12.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

In September, Michael Moore announced he had sold his anticipated documentary Where to Invade Next to a new, unnamed company headed by ex-Radius executives Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League. But as Invade limps into 300 theaters Feb. 12, questions surround the film and the mysterious outfit releasing it.

Invade, in which Moore visits countries that offer a better version of the American dream, was set to roll out nationally Dec. 23, then pushed to Jan. 15 and eventually Feb. 12. In December, Moore, 61, said he would embark on a 50-state bus tour to promote the film, but that never happened. (An empty bus with Invade signage instead is making the rounds.) Insiders blame the delays on not wanting the political satire to open against Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And they attribute the scuttled tour to Moore turning his focus to the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Mich. Plus, the director canceled appearances on Conan and Real Time With Bill Maher because he's battling pneumonia. "You can't burn it at both ends, and if u do, it's best not to do so in the winter nor anywhere near a place full of toxic water!" he wrote on his Facebook page.

Still, many are skeptical of the company that landed Moore's first movie in six years. Quinn, Janego and League have yet to name their label or financial backers, and a company title card will not appear before the film, stoking speculation that the trio didn't actually buy Invade out of Toronto and instead are being paid a service fee to release the film, which was financed by WME-IMG. Quinn and Janego insist League put up funds to buy the film for an undisclosed sum and pay for its prints-and-advertising budget (two sources familiar with the deal say a third party paid for P&A). Either way, the distributor is trying to make the most of the timing of the release amid the U.S. presidential campaign, with TV spots airing during debates. Says Janego, "This is the single most relevant film right now, and it will be the most relevant film all year."