The theories behind when movies studios should release their Oscar contenders seems to change every year.  One season all the consultants are saying you need to go in October, another year you can't open before Nov. 1 and then everyone's fighting to be the last one out there in December.  With this year's Oscar season pushed back two weeks overall because of the Winter Olympics, it was always expected December would be where the major battles between the heavy hitters would be waged.  Surprisingly, a lot of potential Best Picture nominees such as "An Education," "A Serious Man" and "Precious" have gone or will open earlier than expected, but the overall theory is finally coming to fruition.

Long anticipated, The Weinstein Company moved Rob Marshall's musical star cavalcade "Nine" to December from its earlier Nov. 25 release date.  The premier contender will now open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 18 and then expand nationwide Christmas day. 

The delay isn't really due to production issues.  The Weinsteins already had "The Road" opening on Nov. 25 and even in limited release that's too much competition to go head to head with.  Plus, Nine" has to be completed by the end of Nov. to show to critics groups and, most importantly, Harvey's old buddies at the HFPA.  In fact, the Weinsteins may be counting on a publicity bump from Golden Globe nominations on the 15th -- only three days before --  to kick start the film's limited opening gross.

Another Weinstein Oscar player, "A Single Man," also officially has a release date.  Tom Ford's directorial debut will open Dec. 11 in New York and Los Angeles before enjoying a limited expansion on Dec. 25. The Weinstein's will try riding critical acclaim for Colin Firth's performance and expected Golden Globe nods for Firth and Julianne Moore before adding more theaters.

"Nine"
and "A Single Man" will be battling Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" and Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air" for end of year awards season publicity breaks.   Oh, and they'll also be trying to overshadow the daily box office watch for James Cameron's excruciatingly expensive "Avatar" and grosses for the expected blockbuster "Sherlock Homes." Thankfully, there are a small army of award season prognosticators such as yours truly to keep Oscar fans up to date with every breaking moment.  Really, enjoy your holidays...we'll be...working.

Sacrifices.

[Kudos to Brad Brevet of Ropes of Silicon for posting what everyone else couldn't get Weinstein to admit to.]

For constant updates on awards season and entertainment news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter at Twitter.com/HitFixGregory