11 days ago Variety‘s Tatiana Siegel reported that Sony has bought all int’l media rights (excluding U.K. TV) plus domestic home entertainment rights to Edward Norton, Amy Rice and Alicia SamsBy the People: The Election of Barack Obama. It will open in U.S. theatres via HBO Documentary Films, Siegel wrote, although she didn’t include a projected release date. In fact, she didn’t even spitball about a possible ’09 release.

That suggested to me that the doc would probably come out in ’10, which “will feel too late in the game,” I wrote. Well, scratch that. I don’t know why Siegel wasn’t told but By The People will come out this year (sometime in the mid to late fall, or possibly December), and in fact is right now in a finished-enough state that certain parties have seen it and raved. Which means it could qualify for ’09’s Best Feature Documentary Oscar. (Maybe.) Which means it could play at the Venice or Toronto Film Festivals…maybe. But it’ll definitely be in theatres before 12.31.09, to be followed by HBO cable playdates.

Norton’s Class 5 Films produced By The People; Rice and Sams directed.