While conventional wisdom says many studios will debut their awards season contenders at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, most of those films don't hit even limited release until October. In fact, a few years ago this pundit remembers many were wondering if Miramax had blown their nomination chances for "The Queen" by opening it as early as Oct. 6. The facts though show that only six of the last 10 best picture winners opened in Nov. or Dec. It's pretty much a 50/50 prospect for any Oscar campaigner. And now with 10 nominees set for the foreseeable future, giving your picture a little breathing room earlier in the year isn't that bad a strategy.
"Inception" is already playing the early release card, although it was never intended as a best picture player. Focus is using a similar off season strategy for "The Kids Are All Right" hoping summer crossover and critical success can benefit it in the long run in Oscar voter's memories. More intriguing though are a number of films opening in what is usually considered a studio dumping ground: September.
Making this an interesting frame is the well respected Sundance drama "Jack Goes Boating" with Philip Seymour Hoffman (Sept. 17), "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (Sept. 24), the Sundance documentary "Waiting for Superman" (Sept. 24), Woody Allen's "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger" (Sept. 22), Zach Galifianakis' dramedy "It's Kind of a Funny Story" (Sept. 24) and Ben Affleck's latest directorial effort "The Town" (Sept. 17).
The former debuted their first trailers this week and both provided intriguing glimpses of award season candidates.
"The Town" is based on the very popular Chuck Hogan novel "Prince of Thieves" and features an eye-popping cast including recent Best Actor nominee Jeremy Renner, previous Oscar nominee Chris Cooper, "Gossip Girl's" Blake Lively, the effervescent and ready for a breakout Rebecca Hall and the most prominent cinematic role so far for "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm. You can check out the impressive trailer below.
"It's Kind of a Funny Story" is the second film from "Sugar" directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (Boden also edited Fleck's "Hal Nelson") and is also based on a novel, this one by Ned Vizzini. The teenager in a psych ward scenario is most curious because it shows different sides of "United States of Tara" star Keir Gilchrist and "The Hangover's" Galifianakis who appears to be doing some of his most serious work to date. Watch the preview below and judge for yourself.
Do you think "The Town" or "It's Kind of a Funny Story" can make a play during awards season? Share your thoughts below.
For the latest entertainment commentary and breaking news year round, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory .