Typically end of year release date movement is due to award season and Oscar positioning. This year it all appears to be thanks to Warner Bros. moving Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from its November release to summer 2009. This, of course, freed up approximately $280 million holiday dollars and rival studios are looking to take advantage.
Twilight, looked to be the Harry Potter successor (though it won’t be), already snatched up the old Potter release date. The next James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, moved to a week earlier, Universal’s comedy Role Models moved to a week earlier on November 7 and Disney’s Bolt also jumped into the Potter date.
Today Variety tells us Baz Luhrmann’s Australia is the latest flick to do the November shuffle, moving from November 14 to Wednesday November 26 for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Variety article says it will give Luhrmann a little extra time to finish the film and I also expect it means Fox liked the later spot a lot more now that families wouldn’t be so concerned with Harry Potter over the long holiday weekend.
There have been, however, a few award season moves recently as well. The Will Smith starrer Seven Pounds moved to December 19 and the Tom Cruise/Bryan Singer flick Valkyrie moved back into award contention with a December 26 release. Today it was announced the Weinsteins are set to make a December push The Reader, which was directed by Stephen Daldry and stars Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. An exact date has not been set, and The Reader has long been eyed as an Oscar potential feature based on the talent involved. Another interesting factoid is that the film was produced by the late Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, both of which passed away earlier this year.