Did Warner Bros. just plant an Oscar flag for 'In the Heart of the Sea?'

Posted by · 3:15 pm · January 14th, 2015


Well here's something you don't see too often. Just two months out from a planned March release, Warner Bros. has moved Ron Howard's “In the Heart of the Sea” all the way to Dec. 11, 2015. Let's all make the silly pun together: that's right in the heart of the Oscar season.

The studio has a couple of options to play with on the prestige side next year. There's Joe Wright's “Pan” in the summer. There's Scott Cooper's Whitey Bulger biopic “Black Mass,” though that's lingering in a weird September corridor at the moment. There's “The Intern” from Nancy Meyers in November and then there's one of the most anticipated films of the year for me, Jeff Nichols' “Midnight Special,” also in November.

So there isn't a whole lot to play with for awards, I guess. Or a lot of question marks, anyway. So this is either faith that the film can survive a week before J.J. Abrams' “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” obliterates theaters or just a necessity push for something to chew on in that corridor. They had another film ready to slot in March, the Liam Neeson starrer “Run All Night,” so it's probably some combination of all of that.

Nevertheless, I have the utmost faith this movie is going to rock. It's way up there on my list of anticipations, particularly because I'm stoked by Howard's new collaboration with DP Anthony Dod Mantle (“Rush” looked absolutely exquisite). “In the Heart of the Sea” stars Chris Hemsworth and tells the true story that inspired “Moby Dick.” Potential abounds, no?

I will say this, though. Why push it so deep? We're seeing “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (March) and “Boyhood” (July) light up the awards circuit. Maybe it's a fiscal necessity (after all, “Blackhat” isn't tracking well and there won't be a Hemsworth boost coming out of that), but awards wise, it would be nice if studios could adapt to the long game already.

What do you think of the move? Is “In the Heart of the Sea” one to keep our eye on for next year's Oscar season?

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