Weinsteins announce release dates for winter bait

Posted by · 6:10 pm · June 17th, 2011

Harvey Weinstein has never been one to put much faith in the length of Academy voters’ memories, so as usual, he’s favoring a late-year release plan for his presumed awards contenders — the prospects of which I was discussing only the other day.

Thanks to Coming Soon’s Ed Douglas for pointing out the newly announced release dates for his holiday-season prestige slate. You won’t be surprised to hear that it’s November and December down the line: “My Week With Marilyn” is first to go forth on November 4, followed by “The Artist” on November 23, “Coriolanus” on December 2, “W.E.” on December 9 and “The Iron Lady” on December 16.

You can read as much or as little into this schedule as you like, though it’s worth noting that none of them are bowing as late as last year’s Weinstein Company property “Blue Valentine,” the perilously tardy post-Christmas release of which was widely blamed for a meager awards showing — with more time for glowing critical buzz to build, Ryan Gosling and writer-director Derek Cianfrance could arguably have stood a better chance of joining Michelle Williams in the nominee circle.

The date here that interests me most is the comparatively early slot given to European arthouse charmer “The Artist,” which I’ve already suggested might be the likeliest of the Weinsteins’ current titles to find its way into the Best Picture race. (“Marilyn” and “Lady” are, as yet, unknown but presumably performance-driven quantities; “Coriolanus” I feel confident earmarking only for Vanessa Redgrave’s powerhouse supporting turn.)

A Thanksgiving week release affords Michel Hazanavicius’ Cannes-awarded silent-movie homage some necessary breathing room to find its audience and allow word of mouth to build within the specialty market, which a proven crowdpleaser like this one shouldn’t have much trouble doing. Coincidentally or otherwise, the Weinsteins opened “The King’s Speech” on a similar date (November 26) last year: could turkey-time prove similarly lucky for a less tailored Best Picture contender?

[Photo: The Weinstein Company]

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23 responses so far

  • 1 6-17-2011 at 7:03 pm

    Brock Landers said...

    Did the Weinsteins pick up The Wettest Country in the World? I heard rumblings that it might get a 2011 release date.

  • 2 6-17-2011 at 7:14 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    At this stage, that still looks set to be a 2012 release — though obviously, these things can shift (not least where the Weinsteins are concerned). But yes, they have it.

  • 3 6-17-2011 at 7:26 pm

    Brock Landers said...

    Yeah, I thought it was 2012, but I heard somewhere the Weinsteins thought it was so good that they were thinking of bumping it up to 2011.

    Hopefully that is the case, I’d really hate to have to wait until late 2012 to see that one. It sounds fantastic.

  • 4 6-17-2011 at 7:48 pm

    Jake D said...

    Yikes. When was the last time a September/October release actually hurt an Oscar player? This year-end glut is not doing anyone any favors- do they WANT all their properties to get lumped together as the late-release Weinstein films?

    October never hurt anyone.

  • 5 6-18-2011 at 2:51 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    When was the last time a September/October release actually hurt an Oscar player?

    Bright Star comes to mind — it blew its load too early. Some films benefit from a shorter window. Others actually benefit from an early release and a slow-burn effect. I agree with you in principle, though — the holiday rush is unduly hard on too many films, not to mention audiences.

  • 6 6-18-2011 at 3:21 am

    AdamL said...

    I don’t really buy your comment about Blue Valentine. If the release date didn’t hurt Michelle Williams, why did it hurt Ryan Gosling?

  • 7 6-18-2011 at 3:29 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Different categories, different competition, different obstacles. I’d venture that Williams needed fewer votes to secure a Best Actress spot than Gosling needed to break the Best Actor fort. (Plus, she campaigned harder.)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled Williams was nominated. But tandem bids for the two of them should have been the obvious story, and if the film had been given longer to settle, I’m sure that would have entered voters’ imaginations.

  • 8 6-18-2011 at 5:36 am

    JJ1 said...

    I feel like a perfect release roll-out in recent years (especially for smaller films) is a late October or early November with slow roll out which keeps the buzz going through Dec./Jan.

  • 9 6-18-2011 at 6:59 am

    Tisforthommy said...

    And I’m afraid continental Europe has to wait till February, maybe even post Oscars, to see these films. Again. Hell, “Blue Valentine” still hasn’t hit theatres here.

  • 10 6-18-2011 at 9:57 am

    Michael said...

    Ugh I don’t like this very much. They are playing all their cards at once practically. There is no space in between to let films settle in the mind, everything is bombarding all at once. I know each film is its own thing, but still I feel like some of these are going to be muted by all the other studios releasing their Oscar bait all at once. I love seeing these movies but I feel like it is overwhelming to see three Oscar films in one weekend and when seeing such competitive films on top of eachother like that, inevitably some get left behind. I remember last year I saw Rabbit Hole, White Material, and The Illusionist in the midst of all the other heavy hitting Oscar films and now I hardly remember anything about those movies (although I generally liked all of them.) Having space to let things simmer really can go a long way, but that has never been a trait the Weinsteins were known for. And clearly they are continuing with the end of the year blitz technique that has served them well in the past.

  • 11 6-18-2011 at 10:40 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I love seeing these movies but I feel like it is overwhelming to see three Oscar films in one weekend and when seeing such competitive films on top of each other like that, inevitably some get left behind.

    Now you know how we feel at film festivals! Agreed, it’s really not the ideal way to watch movies — particularly if they’re complex works that might need some time to settle.

  • 12 6-18-2011 at 1:31 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    It’s so sad that it’s all about the Oscars for Weinstein. Having 4-5 possible winners in different categories, and them pumping them out once a week, making sure that they end up stealing moviegoers from each other. So it’s not even about making money – it’s about getting the films nominated, no matter if they end up bombing, because so many great (or wannabe-great) films get released at once, and the moviegoers can only see so many films.

    Maybe the films are just not strong enough to last buzzwise. We know that a lot of films only get nominated because they were released around Christmas and get a lot of release publicity. Had Benjamin Button been released in September, it would never have been nominated for 13 Oscars. It came into the game at the last minute and was “the new, big film”. People were voting for it, because they thought they should – they never stopped to think about that the film just wasn’t good enough. The critics and the moviegoers would have shown them that it was to weak, had it been released earlier. It’s already a somewhat forgotten film now.

    But you can also be too late. Gran Torino was old Clint with a rifle, and no one thought it would be a player compared to Changeling. Had it been released just a couple of weeks earlier, it would have had a couple of nominations, especially Best Actor. Possibly even Best Picture. It became a breakout hit too late in the nomination process, and had it shown its popularity just a couple of weeks before, people would have not have felt weird about voting for it.

    It’s all a game, especially to the Weinsteins. But a business man should always care more about making money than winning a price – it’s business, so money is the biggest factor. But the fact is that Weinstein would rather lose money if he can win Oscars in stead. It would LOVE to sit in on one of their Oscar stragedy meetings, hehe…

  • 13 6-18-2011 at 1:46 pm

    Vinci S. said...

    thank you. great info.

  • 14 6-18-2011 at 2:37 pm

    Michael said...

    @ Guy:

    I completely sympathize with all you festival-goers and appreciat that you consistently take one for the team in that regard. I personally could not handle that much cinema in one day. Two films back to back are all my brain can handle (especially heady/artsy films), so anyone who goes through marathon days of seeing 4 or more films is truly a champion. But I can understand that the mind does not recover and certain nuances/details become blurred when you have to immediately pick up and see the next film right after the one before.

    In regards to the awards bait release schedule, I don’t know if there really is a perfect cure b/c every studio constantly repeats the same release patterns since they seem to be effective for maximum awards nominations/wins – if not for the enjoyment of a potentially wider and more receptive audience (who may have to choose between seeing only one comparable film being released in the same weekend.) There have been enough recent examples of successes and failures from releasing big films earlier in the year to indicate that even that isn’t a surefire solution.

  • 15 6-18-2011 at 3:15 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    AdamL, remember the best actress place, it was a toss up for the fifth spot: Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Noomi Rapace, Hilary Swank and even Hailee Steinfeld. Anyone could have it with just a fewer more votes. In actors’ race was more packed with four places locked. Duvall and Gosling have the guild support, Wahlberg has the film and Bardem the voice acclaimed. Also, Firth was the fave of the category and the biggest effort for the Weinstein. So it was an easy support for Williams. Finally, for a couple performances (In romantic or tragic way) is easier for the female lead to get an Oscar nom. Examples:
    -Nicole Kidman vs. Ewan McGregor for “moulin Rouge!”
    -Gwyneth Paltrow vs. Joseph Fiennes in “Shakespeare in Love”
    -Elizabeth Hartman vs. Sidney Poitier in “Patch of Blue”
    -Samantha Morton vs. Paddy Considine in “In America”
    -Samantha Eggar vs. Terrence Stamp in “The Collector”
    -Mary Tyler Moore vs. Donald Sutherland in “Ordinary People”
    -Kate Winslet vs. Jim Carrey in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
    -Kate Winslet vs. Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic”

    The Weinstein know how to play with the Oscars. Yes, they could lose but the strategies and campaign are still recognizables. With at least three biggest players of the season, maybe they return like the 90s.

    -The Artist: I think this film will be the surprise of the season. Even Dujardin could be the dark horse for the Oscar.
    -The Iron Lady: I know (Lloyd) sic… But I’m open to the surprise.
    -My Week with Marilyn: With Branagh’s Thor success and Williams’ second nomination last season…

  • 16 6-18-2011 at 3:18 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***Had Benjamin Button been released in September, it would never have been nominated for 13 Oscars.***

    No, I’m pretty positive it would have. No other film from that year was a more across-the-board contender than “Benjamin Button,” a technical marvel that was essentially guaranteed nominations in nearly every tech category available.

    ***People were voting for it, because they thought they should – they never stopped to think about that the film just wasn’t good enough.***

    Using your opinion and projecting it onto everyone else. Sorry, but I’ve thought about it plenty and “Benjamin Button” is still an extraordinary film.

    ***It’s already a somewhat forgotten film now.***

    According to who? You?

  • 17 6-18-2011 at 3:36 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I agree with everything Speaking English just wrote.

  • 18 6-18-2011 at 4:38 pm

    Vinci S. said...

    I agree. If Ben Button had been released in September, it wouldn’t have been nominated for 13 Oscars. Maybe 9 or 10? And it still would have gotten a BP nod.

    And if Gran Torino’s release had been handled differently, it too could have been nominated for some Oscars. Perhaps Eastwood could have taking Jenkins’ spot on the Best Actor roster, but, frankly, it was over-recognized with an acting nod already seven years ago for Million Dollar Baby. Sorry, as much as I love Clint, the crying scene in the church was forced and unbelievable and, therefore, diminished his performance greatly. I thought he was fabulous in Gran and should have been nominated for that film instead in the acting department instead of Baby.

  • 19 6-18-2011 at 8:40 pm

    Jake Garza said...

    I think it doesnt matter when the film is released!! If the film is good enough it should get nominated no matter the release date! Silence of the lambs is an example!

  • 20 6-18-2011 at 8:54 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Silence of the Lambs — including Fargo since they both came out in February to Oscar glory doesn’t happen anymore — like older non-British, non-Meryl Streeps winning Best Actress.

    The 90s are an underrated Oscar decade — maybe because Cuba won — I hate that win most of all myself.

  • 21 6-19-2011 at 9:28 am

    DylanS said...

    I get the feeling that “The Artist” will only get a Screenplay nomination. I think the Academy will feel uncomfortable about nominating a silent film for anything major beyond that the same way they do with foreign language films and animated fims. I’m interested to hear your opinion on that matter, Guy.

  • 22 6-19-2011 at 9:59 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    DylanS: You’re certainly right that the film’s mostly silent nature is a hump that needs to be overcome with audiences and voters whose definitions of what constitutes “real” film fall, shall we say, on the narrower side. It is a niche proposition on paper, though as its enthusiastic Cannes reception proves, it plays far more broadly than a mere curio.

    The film is so playful with its own relationship to sound, and its place within the artform — I must stress that it’s not a wholly silent film, with both sound and score used to judicious thematic effect — that the audience winds up participating in the discussion. It’s a film explicitly about the medium of film and its creative growth, and I think many industry professionals could respond positively to that.

    Of course, I could be entirely off-base and the film could miss the awards mark entirely — but if it does, I don’t think the reason would be as simple as modern viewers not responding to silent film. (Lest we forget, concern was raised before the film came out about whether the largely silent first act of WALL-E would be a problem for audiences.)

  • 23 6-19-2011 at 11:16 am

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    DylanS, I don’t think being a silent film would be necesary a problem in terms of awards prospect for “the Artist”. Yes, it’s french and silent. But the subtitles are in English, with american character actors in supporting roles (Missi Pyle, John Goodman and James Cromwell) and the theme is all old Hollywood. Like Guy said, Wall-E had a largely silent first act and still has a great response for critics and audience. Even without BP nom (Which could have in a 6-10 spots), the film won 6 nominations.

    Finally, according to the reception (Especially with the American reception) the film has a heart and great connexion with the audience, so if many AMPAS members (Especially the olders) love it, I don’t see a big problem. It’s a “feelgood” romantic dramedy (If the film would be American, no one would doubt about the chances)