Some startling numbers are emerging from polls done in connection with Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, according to Moore himself. In his latest newsletter, Moore cites marketing research showing that hardly anyone going into F9/11 a Bush voter is coming out one.
I had dinner recently with a well-known pollster who had often worked for Republicans. He told me that when he went to see “Fahrenheit 9/11” he got so distraught he twice had to go out in the lobby and pace during the movie.
“The Bush White House left open a huge void when it came to explaining the war to the American people,” he told me. “And your film has filled that void — and now there is no way to defeat it. It is the atomic bomb of this campaign.”
He told me how he had conducted an informal poll with “Fahrenheit 9/11” audiences in three different cities and the results were all the same. “Essentially, 80% of the people going IN to see your movie are already likely Kerry voters and the movie has galvanized them in a way you rarely see Democrats galvanized.
“But, here’s the bad news for Bush: Though 80% going IN to your movie are Kerry voters, 100% of those COMING OUT of your movie are Kerry voters. You can’t come out of this movie and say, ‘I am absolutely and enthusiastically voting for George W. Bush.'”
His findings are similar to those in other polls conducted around the country. In Pennsylvania, a Keystone poll showed that 4% of Kerry’s support has come from people who decided to vote for him AFTER seeing “Fahrenheit 9/11” — and in an election that will be very close, 4% is a landslide. A Harris poll found that 44% of Republicans who see the film give it a “positive” rating. Another poll, to be released this week, shows a 21-point shift in Bush’s approval rating, after just one viewing of the movie, among audiences of undecideds who were shown “Fahrenheit 9/11” in Ohio.
My pollster friend told me that he believes if Kerry wins, “Fahrenheit 9/11” will be one of the top three reasons for his election. Kerry’s only problem, he said, is how many people will actually be able to see it before election day. The less that see it, the better for Bush.
But 20 million people have already seen it — and the Gallup poll said that 56% of the American public has seen or plans to see “Fahrenheit 9/11” either in the theater or on home video. The DVD and home video of our film, thanks to our distributors listening to our pleas to release it before November, will be in the stores on October 5. This is very good news.
These polls galvanized him to try to get F9/11 aired on television before the election. The DVD distributor so far has said No, fearing its profits on the DVD sales would be hurt. Moore is currently trying to talk them into considering a single, one-night-only showing right before the election–preferably the night before.
There’s a price, though–if the film is shown on TV then, less than 9 months after its theatrical release, Academy rules make it ineligible for a run at Best Documentary. Moore responds to that this way:
I have decided not to submit “Fahrenheit 9/11” for consideration for the Best Documentary Oscar. If there is even the remotest of chances that I can get this film seen by a few million more Americans before election day, then that is more important to me than winning another documentary Oscar. I have already won a Best Documentary statue. Having a second one would be nice, but not as nice as getting this country back in the hands of the majority.
His enemies in the corporate press, however, have come up with another reason–they’re suggesting he’s just angling for Best Picture.
What happens when pugnacious filmmaker Michael Moore, incendiary documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” and Oscar gunslinger Harvey Weinstein team up for an Academy Award run? An explosive, and extremely risky, decision to pull “Fahrenheit” out of the documentary race to fight for consideration as best picture.
Moore said he got the idea — it represents a first in Academy Awards history — from veteran Oscar campaigner Weinstein, the Miramax co-chairman who is also an executive producer on the documentary.
Bruce Davis, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ executive director, confirmed that no documentary has ever been nominated for best picture.
And there’s a reason for that:
An Oscar strategist for another studio who asked not to be identified criticized the move, saying “Fahrenheit 9/11” might be popular with some writers and directors who want to make a political statement, but no actors will vote for it because there are no actors in the film, likewise, the crafts unions.
No one who knows more about the movie business than your average 12-yr-old could possibly take this theory seriously. This has Harvey ‘Mad Max’ Weinstein written all over it–a pure press play aimed at getting plenty of ink for Miramax–and a much longer run for the film. Harvey has proved to be a genius at manipulating Academy voters (he’s the guy who got Oscars for The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love when everybody said it was impossible), but even he doesn’t really expect to pull this off in the face of the rock-ribbed Academy prejudices against non-fiction film.
The Academy Award is worth millions of dollars in extra tickets to the winner and a bigger jackpot in video and DVD sales, and F9/11 had a good chance of winning Best Documentary again. It must have hurt Harvey like a hernia when Moore said he was giving it up. Both Miramax and Moore himself are giving up $$millions$$ by doing it. In my book, that makes them heroes–especially since there’s no guarantee the film will even be shown on tv and they may be giving up all that money for nothing. That Moore is doing this for no more than a wing-and-a-prayer hope that the film might be shown on a mass media outlet before the election says a lot about his commitment.
The ‘Best Picture’ ploy is just a gambit to take up some of the slack and renew interest in the film. Anybody who says otherwise is talking through his tinfoil hat.