Fahrenheit 9/11: According to Variety, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 will open in New York next Wednesday, two days earlier than the controversial doc's June 25 opening in Los Angeles and the rest of the country.

The premiere engagement will play on the Upper West Side at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and in the East Village at Loews Cineplex Village, prior to an expansion to additional Manhattan screens with the nationwide opening June 25.

"The level of excitement and interest surrounding 'Fahrenheit 9/11' has been growing day by day," said Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films Releasing. "The demand became so overwhelming that we felt it was necessary to bring the film into New York City early."

"The American appetite for this film has now reached a level surpassing expectation," added IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring.

Distribs earlier this week brought former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo aboard as a lobbyist to promote the release and to help get the Motion Picture Assn. of America's R rating lowered to PG-13.

Appeal hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Los Angeles, but Ortenberg said the release will go ahead as planned regardless of what happens with the rating.

"Our aim with the early New York opening is to get as many people into theaters as possible and start spreading the great word of mouth and strong reviews we're expecting," he told Daily Variety. "This is something we've been considering for a while."

The majority of lead critics from major New York dailies already have weighed in on "Fahrenheit 9/11" from Cannes with mostly positive reviews.

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Brian B.