When Warner Brothers finally came through with the winning bid at $3,000,000 for Roger & Me, collective jaws dropped. Where did Warner Brothers get that kind of money to spend on a documentary about laid-off GM autoworkers?
The answer: Batman.
Batman (starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson) was so successful that it gave Warner Brothers some play money to dabble around with these new-found indie movies. Roger & Me would be one of the first acquisitions. In an interview with Michael Moore at the Torch Bar & Grill held in Flint in 2005, he acknowledged that Warner Brothers was cash-rich from the proceeds of Batman and could easily afford to buy an indie documentary like Roger & Me.
Moore was interested in the money per se, but more interested in getting the film into as many theaters as possible. If had been only about money, he could have sold it earlier and for an equal or greater amount to Disney or Sony.
Moore was dubious as to the real intent of some of the major studios – who had partnered with General Motors in the past – and suspected that certain studio management were friends with Roger Smith, and wanted the film shelved. Warner Brothers had promised the largest distribution, even declaring it would play in Hays, Kansas.
Moore signed over the movie to Warner Brothers on October 17, 1989.
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