Friday, October 17, 2008

The Movie Release Shell Game

In August, Warner Brothers moved the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince release date from November 2008 to July 2009 in order to shore up their 2009 summer slate, which was weakened as a result of the WGA strike earlier in the year. This set off a chain reaction of movie shuffling. Twilight moved up from its December release to take over Harry's original release date, and Quantum of Solace, the new Bond movie, pushed back a week since Harry Potter would no longer be gobbling up all the Thanksgiving audiences.

The dust of all that had just settled when they went and started it up all over again. Harvey Weinstein pushed (and pushed and pushed) to get his Oscar-baiting flick The Reader in for 2008 instead of 2009, even if it means hustling the post-prods and making Reader star Kate Winslet face off against herself (Revolutionary Road opens on December 26th) come awards time. Now it looks like The Road, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name (you may remember him as the author who penned the book that last year's Oscar catnip No Country For Old Men was based on), is being bumped from its November 26th release to sometime in 2009. (Which at least finally settles my debate of whether to see that or Baz Luhrmann's Australia on my birthday/Thanksgiving.) It bears saying that The Road is also a Weinstein production. The move likely relates to the strained promotional resources (since they now have The Reader to worry about, along with Zack and Miri Make a Porno) as well as padding out their 2009 slate.

And now yet another movie is defecting from 2008. One I was highly anticipating, to boot. The Soloist, the upcoming Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx film, is getting bumped to the less-crowded first quarter of 2009. Also moving is Defiance, the WW2 Daniel Craig movie, from December 12th to January 16th. Defiance will, however, get an Oscar-qualifying limited run on December 31st, so it will still be eligible for 2008 awards. The Soloist might get an Oscar run, but I'm betting they just dump it in March. This seems a little boneheaded, since this is clearly Downey's year and he'd practically be a lock if he got a Best Actor nod this year. Next year, his hot streak might have cooled, and besides, Academy voters have short memories, which is why most contenders get rolled out at the end of the year, and from what I've seen and read, The Soloist is definitely a contender.

It's also odd because they've already started rolling Soloist trailers attached to Eagle Eye and Ghost Town. Then again, Warner Brothers had a Harry Potter trailer attached to Iron Man and they still moved it (without bothering to warn Entertainment Weekly, which is owned by Warner, and whose Harry Potter cover of the Fall Movie Preview hit the stands the day of the date swap announcement).

So now that's three movies - Harry Potter, The Road, and The Soloist - I had been anticipating that are now bowing in 2009. Of those, I suspect The Soloist is taking the hit the hardest since it had already started some publicity for the now-non-existent November release, and it doesn't have the guaranteed audience Harry has. So is that it, are the rest of the 2008 movies gonna stay put? Don't hold your breath. Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements in the coming weeks, I'm willing to bet at least one more movie defects to 2009 or jumps ahead to 2008. As long as Australia stays put, I won't get too grumpy.


Sex Mahoney for President said...

They already pushed back the only movie I cared about for the fall schedule. Now I'll have to wait until February to see the Youth in Revolt adaptation.

Sex Mahoney for President

smd said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about that one. That's another Weinstein/Lionsgate movie (they of the Midnight Meat Train dump and Road push). They're not doing so great with the getting movies out on time this year. And the Weinsteins wonder why Disney muscled them out of Miramax.