Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief was an instant critical and commercial success when it first aired in March — it was HBO's highest-rated documentary premiere in almost a decade. Thanks to continuing "popular demand," the network is bringing the film back to theaters for a limited release on September 25th. Alex Gibney's adaptation of Lawrence Wright's book about the shadowy pseudo-church first hit the big screen at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it was lauded for its comprehensiveness and intensity.
This isn't Going Clear's first limited release. It played at a few theaters several weeks before it first aired on HBO, but that was an intentionally slight release, one likely designed to preserve the documentary's Oscar eligibility. (As part of its rules for documentary candidacy, the Academy states: "Films that, in any version, receive a nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution before their first qualifying theatrical release, will not be eligible for Academy Award consideration.") This second release may very well also have to do with award eligibility, as the full version of the rules contains multiple specific clauses about screening locations, times, and picture quality.
If the movie is ultimately recognized by the Academy, it'll become Gibney's third Oscar-nominated documentary. He was first nominated in 2006 for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and he won the award for Best Documentary Feature in 2008 for Taxi to the Dark Side.