Filmmaker Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11) has never minced words, and at the New York press conference for his new documentary SiCKO, which takes on the U.S. health care system and HMOs, he addressed the fact that a clean digital copy of the movie had already leaked onto the internet. Although he has some theories of who might be responsible (he didn’t say, but we can probably guess), it was more interesting to hear his liberal attitude towards the film being available for free (and illegal) download almost two weeks before its theatrical release.
“The film that’s leaked onto the internet is not taken at a movie theatre with a little home video camera, right? The way it’s usually done? This is an inside job,” Moore responded when asked for a statement on the leak. “Now, if you were a police detective, one of the first questions you’d ask is motive. Who has a vested interest in destroying the opening weekend’s box office of this movie? If I were the police or the FBI investigating this felony that’s taken place, that’s where I would look.”
“Having said that, I’m glad that people were able to see my movie,” he said in a surprising twist. “I’m not a big believer in our copyright laws. I think they’re way too restrictive. I just read Don DeLillo’s book ‘Falling Man,’ a wonderful book. If I were suddenly to take this out of my bag and say to you, ‘Hey, you should read this, it’s great’ would I be breaking the law? No. I’d be sharing something with you. I’m sharing a work of art with you, and what happens is that if you like that book, there’s a very good chance you might go on Amazon next week and order three more of Don DeLillo’s books, because you got the free book from me. I’ve never supported this concept of going after Napster. I think the rock bands who fought this were wrong. I think filmmakers are wrong about this. I think sharing’s a good thing. I remember the first time I received a cassette tape of a band called The Clash. I became an instant fan of the Clash and then bought their albums after that and went to their concerts and gave them my money but I first got it for free. C’mon. Everyone in here’s either young or were young, and that’s how it happens, right?”
“I don’t like what’s going on with this issue,” he continued, “but as a filmmaker, I made this film to be seen on a 40-foot screen. I don’t even like DVDs. Honest to God, in my lifetime, I might have rented a dozen DVDs, literally gone into a video store and rented a dozen DVDs in my lifetime, because I don’t like to see movies that way. I like to see them on the big screen. That’s how the filmmaker intended them to be seen, and I really hope people go see this movie on the big screen and sit there on opening weekend with 300 of your fellow Americans, yelling, jeering, cheering, screaming, laughing, crying and leaving the theatre like, ‘Woah. Let’s have a drink and talk about this.’ That’s the communal experience and that’s why movies never die. They said television would kill the movies, it didn’t. They said VCRs would kill the movies, it didn’t. Now they’re saying this is going to kill the movies. It won’t. People want to get out of the house and go to the movies! Nothing’s ever going to kill that, and I really hope people will do that on opening weekend.”
Moore then returned to his earlier thoughts on how this may have happened. “I really think as journalists, it is worth a phone call to the people who have a vested interest in destroying the opening weekend of this movie. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but if I were a cop, that’s question one, ‘Who has something to gain?’ I’m not talking a kid going to the theatre with a little video camera. This is the actual digital master, it’s perfect. You can’t really get that unless you’ve been able to perform an inside job essentially.”
That all said, on this very day, distributor Lionsgate announced that they’ll “sneak preview” SiCKO in a single theatre in NYC starting Friday, but check back for more with Moore next week when SiCKO opens in THEATRES on Friday, June 29.