Could the unthinkable actually be happening with awards season barely in swing?  Over the past few days, rumors have flown around the Toronto Film Festival and back in good ol' Los Angeles that the financially strapped The Weinstein Company was considering moving expected Oscar contender "Nine" out of this calendar year and into 2010.  Considering "Nine" has been one of the most hyped releases for the company this year, it would be a dramatic event which could mean either the Weinsteins or the picture itself was in serious trouble.

Directed by "Chicago's" Rob Marshall, "Nine" is the big screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical which features an all-star cast including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson and, um, Fergie.

Eyebrows were first raised when the studio moved the drama "The Road," which hasn't received much critical love at either Venice or Toronto, to the same Nov. 25 date as "Nine" was originally expected to open wide.  Both films are primarily aimed at somewhat different audiences, but they would have enough crossover to potentially harm the other's grosses.  With today's jaw-dropping pick up of Tom Ford's "A Single Man" (big mistake Mr. Ford) and the turnaround both critically and commercially of "Inglourious Basterds," the scuttlebutt was flying that the company couldn't afford to campaign or release a third prestige picture this year. Plus, why would Ford allow his directorial debut, which rides on the shoulders of Colin Firth's acclaimed performance, to be spearheaded by a company that has a legitimate best actor candidate of its own in "Nine's" Daniel Day-Lewis? Does he know something everyone else doesn't?

The possible date change was first posted a few days ago on an awards focused website which then removed the post for some unknown reason.  Today, however, The Hollywood Reporter posted the rumor crediting some rival distribution executives saying the film could move and that meant this might not be the typical Harvey Weinstein bashing that seems to have a never-ending life of its own.

HitFix reached out to the Weinstein Company and were told by a publicity representative: "The rumors are untrue.  'Nine' is opening limted on Nov 25 and will continue to expand through Christmas."

Considering the company's widely publicized layoffs before Labor Day and a number of completed films that still don't have release dates due to tight finances, it's just been another rocky month or so for the Weinstein Company.  Whether Harvey can spin some Oscar magic for "Basterds," "Single Man" and, at this point, "Nine" as he did last year for "The Reader," remains to be seen.  But, this is one story that won't die until "Nine" starts screening for critics in November.

 

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