'Fahrenheit' Reaches New Heights

Michael Moore joined the $100 million club as his controversial film "Fahrenheit 9/11" became the first documentary ever to top that mark at the domestic box office.

"Fahrenheit 9/11," Moore's condemnation of President Bush's actions regarding the Sept. 11 attacks, had a weekend haul of $5 million to lift its total to $103.35 million since opening in late June.

"The American people have not been given the whole story about these last three years and they don't feel they've been given the truth from the White House," Moore said Sunday. "So they've gone to the movie theaters to look for the truth and to begin the important discussion and debate that needs to take place in this country."

The previous best domestic gross for a feature-length documentary was $21.6 million for Moore's Academy Award-winning "Bowling for Columbine." That film took nine months to hit that level, while "Fahrenheit 9/11" did more business, $23.9 million, in just its first weekend.

The polarizing effects of Sept. 11 and its aftermath, with Americans bitterly divided over Bush's invasion of Iraq, has boosted the public's appetite for political documentaries such as "Fahrenheit 9/11," "Control Room" and "Outfoxed," Moore said.

"It's really cool now to talk about politics, and this is the first time I've seen this happen in decades, really," Moore said. "Being apathetic right now is very uncool."

"Fahrenheit 9/11" won the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but the movie lost its original distributor when Disney refused to let subsidiary Miramax release it because of its political content.

Miramax bosses Harvey and Bob Weinstein bought back the film and arranged for independent distribution through Lions Gate Films and IFC Films.

Democrats have embraced "Fahrenheit 9/11," though Moore said his main goal was to create good entertainment, not dabble in politics. Moore said he has not been contacted by the campaign of Democratic candidate John Kerry and that he did not make the movie to boost Democrats' prospects of winning the White House.

The real effect of "Fahrenheit 9/11" will be to encourage normally disinterested Americans to participate this fall, Moore said.

"I believe the film is going to bring hundreds of thousands of people to the polls who otherwise were not going to vote," Moore said. "I think it's going to have a tremendous impact in that way."

Moore said he had hoped to have "Fahrenheit 9/11" out on DVD before the November election, but that the film could continue to play in theaters through year's end and into 2005.

"So I don't know really what that means now in terms of the DVD," Moore said.

By David Germain


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