‘Tinker, Tailor’ joins the December club

Posted by · 11:06 am · August 29th, 2011

American viewers already frustrated about waiting two months longer than the Brits to lay eyes on Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” — welcome to our world, guys — won’t be pleased by Pete Hammond’s revelation in a recent column that the wait has been extended by three weeks.

Yes, Focus Features has pushed the film back from its original November 18 release date to December 9, a move that some will interpret as indicative of bolshy awards-season hopes for the star-studded John Le Carr√© adaptation — though the pre-Thanksgiving berth wasn’t exactly Oscar-unfriendly either.

That said, Focus might have picked a date with less intimidating high-end competition: originally set to precede¬†“The Artist,” “The Descendants” and “Hugo” by only a few days, the film now need only stare down limited releases of Madonna’s “W.E.” and Jason Reitman’s “Young Adult.”

Meanwhile, I’ll be seeing the film bright and early next Monday at Venice, with its UK release coming shortly afterwards on September 16. With the film not set to appear at either Toronto or Telluride, the film’s first appearance across the pond may not come until that December 9 release.

It’s an interesting quarantine plan that suggests Focus are counting on a wave of positive critical buzz from the UK to fill the void — and judging from the reactions of colleagues who have seen it at recent London press screenings, that’s what they’ll get. (Annoyingly, I missed my chance at an early peek by taking a weekend trip to Ireland. More fool me.) “Meticulous” is a word I’ve heard applied both to the film and Gary Oldman’s performance on more than one occasion, though its apparent subtlety could yet be its largest awards-season obstacle.

Speaking of which, Alberto Iglesias’s score for the film promises a certain sombre, low-key classiness: you can listen to it at this designated page, and it’s rather lovely indeed. Obviously I still need to see how it works in context, but between this and the contrasting achievement of his deliciously ripe dramatics for Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In,” Iglesias is having a good year.

(An earlier draft of this article contained some outdated information about the release date and score of “Carnage.” I apologize for the error.)

[Photo: Focus Features]

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23 responses so far

  • 1 8-29-2011 at 11:13 am

    Zack said...

    Do you know if December 9 is the wide-release date?

  • 2 8-29-2011 at 11:25 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    Tinker is not playing at New York Film Fest!!

  • 3 8-29-2011 at 11:30 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I thought it was out as the opener because Oldman couldn’t attend, but was still going to play the fest.

  • 4 8-29-2011 at 11:43 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    I was hoping it would screen but NYFF unveiled their entire slate and it was not on it. So it really will be three months between screening at Venice and then the US.

  • 5 8-29-2011 at 11:45 am

    Michael said...

    WOE IS ME!!!! I can’t stand having to wait all the way until December, but it will definitely be worth the wait. I just finished watching the original miniseries with Alec Guinness (as well as the follow-up “Smiley’s People”) – and I was completely blown away. The idea of seeing the story condensed down into one 2 hour film is both startling and exciting. And that cast is insane! There’ll be enough incredible movies to tide me over until it comes out in December, but I am very anxious for when it does finally play here. I expect lots of coverage of this film from you Guy since you will have the opportunity to see it in Venice (and if you miss it you can always watch it a few weeks later in England…)

  • 6 8-29-2011 at 11:55 am

    Linus said...

    Carnage was actually pushed back a month. It’s released December 16th, apparently.

  • 7 8-29-2011 at 11:57 am

    red_wine said...

    Polanski is actually collaborating once again with Desplat on Carnage, after the superb work showcased in The Ghost Writer.

    I don’t think Carnage offers much scoring opportunities eitherways. Its just people taking for 70 minutes.

  • 8 8-29-2011 at 12:07 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Huh, I missed Desplat replacing Iglesias on that.

  • 9 8-29-2011 at 12:50 pm

    Stefan said...

    I guess the studio was afraid of competing against Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Happy Feet 2, though that would be odd, considering these three films are aiming for completely different audiences and demographics.

  • 10 8-29-2011 at 1:06 pm

    James said...

    I really hope Tinker Tailor is released wide December 9th.

  • 11 8-29-2011 at 1:40 pm

    MattyD. said...

    I think the prospect of the novel condensed into a taut and tense 2 hours is exciting. The story I think will work better in those confines.

    Sad that I’ll have to wait this long! Good thing there’s so much I have to see between now and then!

  • 12 8-29-2011 at 3:21 pm

    Maxim said...

    I really don’t remember a more overloaded December than this year’s. Great new for moviegoers, I guess but unless they shove up for all these films it might get pretty brutal, box officewise.

  • 13 8-29-2011 at 3:28 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    I don’t understand it Maxim. October and November look pretty weak, why do they stack everything into a few weeks in December?

    Dec 23 alone has Tintin, Tattoo, MI, We Bought a Zoo, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Blood and Honey (Jolie).

    Right before that you got Tinker Tailor, Young Adult, W.E., Sherlock Holmes, Carnage and The Iron Lady. Then to finish Dec there is War Horse.

    There are twelve months in a year, why release every movie in one month?

  • 14 8-29-2011 at 3:37 pm

    Maxim said...

    I have a theory, Matt.

    I think that few people outside the studios really understand how profoundly the recent AMPAS rule changes affected the Oscar game. I would argue that there is a lot more pressure on films wanting to get the Best Picture nomination than ever before. Sure, the number of slots may be larger than five but arbitrary #1 votes rule changes the *kinds* of film that get in.

    It’s not enought to be liked, you gotta be liked well and, mostly importantly, you have to be remembered. And to do that, it helps to be among the very last thing that the viewers see before their work out their picks.

    It may seem extreme but that’s my take.

  • 15 8-29-2011 at 4:35 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    At the same time something like the Ides of March will come out in early October and be on voters minds for months with nothing in the way. That could work just as well.

    Hurt Locker was considered the best film of 2009 in July and stayed at the top for so long it just stuck.

    Finally it will be more difficult to be remembered with all that competition.

  • 16 8-29-2011 at 4:44 pm

    Maxim said...

    First of all, Matt, let me explain that I wasm neither advocating nor expecting to see every film move it’s release date to December. Merely offering my take as to why December is more overloaded compared to other months and the usual.

    “At the same time something like the Ides of March will come out in early October and be on voters minds for months with nothing in the way. That could work just as well.”

    Sure, that’s another strategy and it works well for certain types of films and already established filmmakers/actors. That’s said, you are making an assumptions as to how memorable the film will be.

    “Hurt Locker was considered the best film of 2009 in July and stayed at the top for so long it just stuck.”

    That’s arguable. Hurt Locker is a widely specific case anyway since it was finished and seen a year before it’s release and most certainly is an example of a film with a release was very specifically timed.

    “Finally it will be more difficult to be remembered with all that competition.”

    That strikes me as rather defeatish logic. If you think your film may pale why throw money at the Oscar game at all.

  • 17 8-29-2011 at 6:15 pm

    JJ1 said...

    This drives me nuts every year. Why can’t more prestige films be spread throughout late October/November? Is it REALLY that awful to have the film(s) to be one month prior? I guess that’s why I’m not in the Oscar game. haha

  • 18 8-29-2011 at 6:28 pm

    Glenn said...

    “Great new for moviegoers”

    Except it’s awful for moviegoers who actually have to spend money to go see the films and can only choose a few. As you say, some films are gonna get slaughtered at the box office.

    Anyway, boo hoo. The film’s late. As Guy states, welcome to our world.

  • 19 8-29-2011 at 7:05 pm

    Maxim said...

    Glenn, I think that having a lot of films to choose from is better than being stuck with little or no choice. As frustrating as it may be, it also has some real positives for viewers.

  • 20 8-29-2011 at 7:19 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    I know you were not advocating anything Maxim.

    Anyways I can’t help but think that films like The Lovely Bones and Revolutionary Road would have fared a lot better had they come out earlier and not against the titans of December.

    Looking at October right now, nothing looks interesting outside of The Ides of March and Martha Marcy May Marlene.

  • 21 8-29-2011 at 7:30 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Interesting point about ‘The Lovely Bones’. I thought that the film was kind of a mess. But there were incredible strengths within it (at least, for me). Ronan, Tucci, cinematography, sets (wow), costumes, sound design (wow), fx, score.

    It was the direction & writing that was iffy, for me. But I concur that a Summer or Oct/Nov release would have fared better for it, I think.

    On the flip side, I think ‘Nine’ would have gotten less than it actually did if it came out earlier. That film, more than any other that I’ve known in recent times, benefited from it’s ‘sight unseen’ status til the late hour. And I even liked ‘Nine’ – in a way.

  • 22 8-29-2011 at 7:49 pm

    Maxim said...

    And of course, just because that’s how things look to you Matt doesn’t mean everyone sees October as being equally weak.
    That’s not the point though.

    Sure, TLB and RR could have done marginally better but by following this logic TLB could have done in better in Summer. That’s not the point either. There are limits to how much better these films could have done. These films were screened long before their respective release dates. Sometimes films, even great ones, don’t catch fire regardless.

    What I disagree with though as what I see as defeatist logic. Why shouldn’t The Lovely Bones be one of those titans too? It was directed by Peter Jackson and he could have gotten nowhere if he didn’t dare to compete.

  • 23 8-29-2011 at 8:33 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    JJ – Nine could have come out in September, also sight unseen and done about the same at the box office.

    Maxim – I don’t think Peter Jackson has much of a say when Lovely Bones is released, all that is up to the studio. I also don’t think it is defeatist to try and slot your film in a weekend where all eyes are going to be on you.

    You can’t tell me that Fox Searchlight didn’t make a good decision releasing Tree of Life at the end of May instead of the clustercuss that is December. It was the talk of the online film community for weeks, months. Now imagine if it came out December 23.