Moviegoers were preparing to be offered very different flavors of Leonardo DiCaprio this Christmas, between Leo dropping racial epithets in Quetin Tarantino’s Django Unchained – and putting on a handsome face as the yearning protagonist in Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby. The game plan has changed, now that Warner Bros. has pushed the 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel back from December 25th, 2012 to a (tentatively, unspecified) date in Summer 2013.

Scroll on down to learn the official explanation for why Warner Bros. has decided to delay the release of Great Gatsby for six months (at least).

Warner Bros. President of Domestic Distribution Dan Fellman and President of International Distribution Veronika Kwan Vandenberg have issued the following statements (via an official press release):

In making the announcement, Fellman stated, “Based on what we’ve seen, Baz Luhrmann’s incredible work is all we anticipated and so much more. It truly brings Fitzgerald’s American classic to life in a completely immersive, visually stunning and exciting way. We think moviegoers of all ages are going to embrace it, and it makes sense to ensure this unique film reaches the largest audience possible.”

Kwan Vandenberg confirmed, “Baz is known for being innovative, but with this film he has done something completely unexpected—making it in 3D—while capturing the emotion, the intimacy, the power and the spectacle of the time. The responses we’ve had to some of the early sneak peeks have been phenomenal, and we think ‘The Great Gatsby’ will be the perfect summer movie around the world.”

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrives this year on December 14th, less than two weeks before Great Gatsby was previously slated to open in theaters. It’s surprising that Warner Bros. has waited until now to reposition Luhrmann’s $150 million project, so it won’t have to compete against Jackson’s return to Middle-earth at the box office.

The cast of Baz Luhrmann's 'Great Gatsby'

The Great Gatsby trailer overflows with brazen production design and energetic visual style – with the emotion factor cranked up to 11, in keeping with Luhrmann’s usual storytelling. That’s to say: Great Gatsby will draw in the filmmaker’s fans, along with those either intrigued (or morbidly-curious) to see what Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece is like in Luhrmann’s hands. It nonetheless seems like the sort of prestige flick that’d do better financial business when awards season fever is rampant.

Moulin Rouge! opened in May of 2001 and became a serious awards-contender, so perhaps Warner Bros. is hoping to recreate the critical success of that Luhrmann production (while also bringing in more box office loot). Warner Bros. has Man of Steel arriving next June and Pacific Rim in July, so a May 2013 launch date for Great Gatsby makes all the more sense (looking from that angle).

We’ll keep you updated on The Great Gatsby as the story develops.

Source: Warner Bros.