Could the Oscar race come down to a clash between to Academy favorites? Intriguingly, two of the biggest expected contenders are taking their chances opening against each other on the same day.
Four-time Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood, who probably missed out on a best actor nod for "Gran Torino" this year by opening a week too late (when the drama had a monster opening), is back with the inspirational drama "Invictus." The film tells of the unexpected relationship between rugby star Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) and Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) after the fall of apartheid. Warner Bros. has set a nationwide release date of Dec. 11 for the picture, right smack in the middle of awards season.
Also set to open that same day across the country is DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures' "The Lovely Bones." The first directorial effort from Oscar-winner Peter Jackson since "King Kong," the movie is a mix of fantasy and drama centering on a teenage girl who tries to guide her family from heaven after she's brutally murdered. Also awards season fodder, the picture stars Mark Wahlberg (previous nominee), Rachel Weisz (winner), Susan Sarandon (winner) and Saoirse Ronan (nominee).
Both pictures are text book examples of "Oscar bait." The question is, will Paramount blink and move the release date? Or will both pictures fight for attention on the same weekend? And they say awards season strategy doesn't start until August...
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles/Mark J. Terrill