Saturday, May 3, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy: Weinstein sets awards season dates for 'Big Eyes,' 'Imitation Game' and 'Eleanor Rigby

By Kristopher Tapley   Friday, May 2, 2014 3:56 PM

<p>Benedict Cumberbatch in &quot;The Imitation Game&quot;</p>

The Weinstein Company has a pretty tight slate of prestige titles this year, a number of them likely set for the upcoming Oscar circuit. And indeed, today we're getting word that three of them are all lined up for prime awards season real estate on the release calendar, setting the stage for another slew of months in the trenches for Harvey and his team.

Still, even a packed slate bursting with potential can be a bit of a burden. After all, the indie distributor is coming off a pretty busy but still skin-of-their-teeth Oscar season where a lack of overall campaign focus nearly cost them; for a while there, it was looking like none of TWC's many baity 2013 contenders was going to land a Best Picture nomination. But "Philomena" pulled it out, and I couldn't help but to congratulate Harvey at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards on the night of the Oscar nominations back in January for dodging that bullet.

"Big Eyes" has secured a release date of Christmas Day, which puts it toe-to-toe with Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken," Rob Marshall's big Disney musical "Into the Woods" and Cameron Crowe's still-untitled latest. However, recent history proves that December releases just don't gain the traction to win Best Picture at the Oscars: Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" 10 years ago was the last to do so.

I imagine studios eager to be in the awards game this year may be looking to last season for a few cues, though. The two last films to drop on press and public last time around, "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street," landed a bunch of nominations before the hangover eventually wore off (neither won an Oscar). Sometimes the goal is just the monetary boost of being in that conversation; that's long been part of Weinstein's overall strategy with his films.

The bigger play for Harvey this year might be Morten Tyldum's "The Imitation Game," starring Benedict Cumberbatch as early computer technology pioneer Alan Turing. I read this script, which was raved up one side and down the other when it was making the rounds a few years back, and it's a fantastic role for Cumberbatch that will likely find him in the thick of the Best Actor race. Plus, it has a much more Academy-friendly release date: Nov. 21.

When you look back over TWC's recent Oscar successes, the Thanksgiving corridor has paid dividends. "The King's Speech," "The Artist," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Philomena" all hit theaters in late-November before marching on to Best Picture nominations. I would expect this to be pretty good bet, depending on how the "Headhunters" director navigates the material in his first English-language gig. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Mark Strong also star.


No comments: