[My take: I'm not so sure that Moore is giving up tens of millions of box office revenues on this one, as AP suggests. Getting theatrical distribution for a documentary is hard, even for Moore, and it maybe this one just didn't look like it was going to sell well enough to justify that. So it may really be a case of free online vs straight to DVD. And for Moore, for whom political impact is as important as cash, the mass reach enabled by free could mean more than whatever DVD revenues he'll forgo during the online distribution window. ]
NEW YORK (AP) — Inspired by Neil Young and Radiohead, Michael Moore will release his new film online and for free.
The film, "Slacker Uprising," follows Moore's 62-city tour during the 2004 election to rally young voters. It will be available for three weeks as a free download to North American residents, beginning Sept. 23. An official announcement of the film is planned for Friday.
Moore said he considered releasing "Slacker Uprising" theatrically as "Michael Moore's big election year movie" as he did with 2004's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which was highly critical of President Bush.
Instead, Moore opted for a symbol of gratitude to his fans as he approaches the 20th anniversary of his first film, 1989's "Roger & Me."
"I thought it'd be a nice way to celebrate my 20th year of doing this," Moore said. "And also help get out the vote for November. I've been thinking about what I want to do to help with the election this year."
The 97-minute long "Slacker Uprising" will be the first major film to be released in such a way. Last December, "Jackass 2.5" was streamed online and for free, but that was only a collection of left over material from "Jackass 2." Companies like ClickStar, which Morgan Freeman co-founded, have made films still in theaters — such as 2006's "10 Items or Less" — digitally available for purchase or rental.
If history is any measure, "Slacker Uprising" could have made a decent sum in theaters. His last two films, "Sicko" ($24 million) and "Fahrenheit 9/11" ($119 million) are two of the three highest grossing documentaries ever.
Read more here.
[Thanks to Brandon Buck for the heads up]