Benedict Cumberbatch's Thomas Edison drama, The Current War, has been picked up and re-scheduled for an October release date. The film was actually shot in 2016, and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival the year after. However, because it was backed by The Weinstein Company at the time, it wound up being shelved when the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal broke in Fall 2017. Following TWC's bankruptcy, the movie was acquired by a couple new distributors and had its eye on a 2018 release, before the deal fell through and it was subsequently purchased by the newly-formed 101 Studios for $3 million last month.
Written by Michael Mitnick (The Giver) and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), The Current War is a period piece that explores the real-life competition between inventor Edison (Cumberbatch) and businessman George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), to see who could design a sustainable electrical system in the late 19th century. The movie's all finished at this point, and has merely been waiting for a studio to pick it up and release it in theaters. And now, after a nearly two year wait, that's finally happening.
101 Studios has announced The Current War will hit theaters this fall on October 4 in a limited release, before it goes wide a week later on October 11. That means the film will open in select markets on the same weekend as the Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker and Amy Adams' mystery-thriller The Woman in the Window, before it expands wide against the animated Addams Family and Will Smith's sci-fi action drama Gemini Man.
It light of the competition, it will be interesting to see how The Current War fares commercially. Early word of mouth was mixed to negative following the movie's TIFF premiere in 2017, as critics praised the film for its innovative cinematography and slick production design, but otherwise dismissed it for being a (frankly) boring, by the numbers biopic. That said, it's possible the critical reaction will improve from hereon out, now that Gomez-Rejon has re-edited the movie. Just last month, in fact, it was revealed the new version of The Current War is ten minutes shorter than the one that screened at TIFF, even after Gomez-Rejon incorporated five additional scenes.
Between its subject matter and big name cast (which includes Nicholas Hoult as Nikolai Tesla and Tom Holland in a supporting role), The Current War may yet succeed in attracting a sizable crowd at the box office. And assuming this re-cut iteration is generally regarded as an improvement on its predecessor, it might even become the awards season contender it was originally intended to be. At the same time, its association with the Weinstein name could be difficult to shake, even with a different distributor in its corner and the two-year anniversary of the Weinstein scandal coming up around its release date. Then again, perhaps that's exactly as it should be.
Source: 101 Studios
- The Current War (2019) release date: Oct 25, 2019