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F911's Profits Will Go To Charity Of Disney's Choosing

From The Wall Street Journal (via MLive.com):

After Walt Disney Co. refused to allow its Miramax Films unit to distribute the controversial Michael Moore documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," Miramax co-Chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein paid $6 million from their own pockets to acquire the film from the company. Six weeks later, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a smash sensation, and the Weinsteins are widely assumed to be laughing all the way to the bank.

If so, the laughter may be muted. Despite their personal investment, the Weinstein brothers will not be the biggest financial beneficiaries of "Fahrenheit." The real winner: a charity, or charities, as yet unnamed, that will receive about 60 percent of the net profit ultimately generated by the film -- a tally that could be tens of millions of dollars. The Weinsteins, meanwhile, will pocket about 40 percent of the net, according to people familiar with the deal.

And who will pick the charities that get the money? Disney, the company that refused to release the movie, without having to consult either the Weinsteins or Mr. Moore. It's all the unexpected result of yet another strange tussle between Disney and the Weinsteins, the corporate odd couple that has had a tough time getting along since Disney's 1993 acquisition of Miramax.

Over the years, Disney and the Weinstein brothers have fought over issues of control, compensation and budgets. But their relationship was pushed to the brink in May, when a public spat broke out over Disney's refusal to allow Miramax to release "Fahrenheit." As Mr. Moore made the media rounds accusing Disney of censoring his movie, Disney executives were furious that the Weinsteins seemed to side with him.

So when negotiations began for the Weinsteins to buy the film back from Disney, the discussions quickly took on the stern parent/naughty child tone that has characterized many moments between the parties over the years. According to people familiar with the matter, the media company was determined to punish the brothers for their alleged bad behavior by limiting the extent to which the Weinsteins could benefit.

In essence, Disney refused to sell the film to the brothers unless they agreed that they would not benefit personally any more than they would have under their employment agreement. That is still a lot of money: Under that complex deal, the Weinsteins typically pocket about 40 percent of the net profit from any Miramax picture, after the costs of distribution, prints and advertising and talent participations are deducted. But people close to the deal say that Disney demanded that the remaining 60 percent go to a charity or charities of its choice.

The Weinsteins, these people say, had little choice but to agree because they wanted to get the movie out quickly.

Michael Eisner is a vindicitive SOB, just ask Gregg Easterbrook....

Update: Jeff Jarvis say that Disney should give the money to Spirit Of America.

Comments (8)

I think it is cool that the... (Below threshold)

I think it is cool that the movie will do some good. Regardless or what we think of it, right or left, the charity move means that the movies effects will live long after the political season it saught to influence is over.

Damn. I may just have to st... (Below threshold)

Damn. I may just have to start kinda sorta when I'm not really paying attention liking Eisner.

At least until I find out what charities he's giving the money to.

I guess Disney isn't such a... (Below threshold)

I guess Disney isn't such a bad "guy" after all.

At least, and of course, as long as the charity that benefits is truly needy, will actually get a check.

Would be truly wonderful if it could go to benefit the situation currently underway in the Sudan, however, in any way possible.

If all involved believe so ... (Below threshold)

If all involved believe so deeply in the "cause", shouldn't a huge chunk of Disney's and Moore's profits be going to humanitarian aid in the Middle East?

I still say Moore's not an activist--he's just the definitive picture of greed and gluttony.

I think Michael Moore is ou... (Below threshold)

I think Michael Moore is out to make a name for himself, I have watched some of his films and I thought that they were decent. Whether we agree or disagree, at least we live in a country that allows freedom of speech.

"Profits?" Silly humans. Ev... (Below threshold)

"Profits?" Silly humans. Everyone knows that movies, after all the accounting is over, either don't make any money, or just break even.

Just ask the guys who get percentage points for "net earnings."

It would be great if they g... (Below threshold)

It would be great if they gave that money to Spirit of America.

Aw cripes, just saw the upd... (Below threshold)

Aw cripes, just saw the update where Jeff Jarvis said the same thing.






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