After a long period mostly out of the limelight, Michael Keaton has experienced a major career resurgence in the last two years. Keaton won a Golden Globe two years ago for his role in Birdman, and has also played a leading role in two consecutive Academy Award winners for Best Picture: Birdman in 2014 and then Spotlight in 2015.
With his next film, The Founder, in which he plays longtime McDonalds CEO Ray Kroc, Keaton is looking to make it three in a row, with the help of a fascinating true-life story and a deep supporting cast that includes Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch and Linda Cardellini. And now, The Weinstein Company is giving him a better chance to do so.
According to Deadline, The Weinstein Company is pushing The Founder from its previous release date of August 2016 right into primetime awards season. The film, directed by The Blind Side’s John Lee Hancock, will receive an Oscar-qualifying run starting December 16th, 2016 (the day that Disney/Lucasfilm's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story goes into a wide U.S. theatrical release), before opening wide on January 20, 2017. The film, which debuted a trailer back in April, had originally been scheduled for around Thanksgiving time before it was moved up to August.
The Deadline piece states that the release date of the film is moving because the studio, as well as test audiences, have been high on The Founder, leading the executives to conclude that it has more Oscar potential than previously thought. The Weinstein Company has long been notoriously aggressive with their Oscar campaigns, and their slate for the rest of the year - the boxing biopic Hands of Stone and the drama The Lion - are probably less Oscar-friendly than the Keaton film. In addition, the new release date moves The Founder away from likely blockbuster Suicide Squad on August 5th.
Much as many were looking forward to seeing The Founder in just a few weeks, the move makes sense. The Founder, structurally, is similar to The Social Network, another film about the origin story of an American corporation, right down to a battle over control between the protagonist and a pair of brothers - and the latter film earned a bunch of Oscar nominations.
Then again, other recent corporate origin biopics, especially last year’s Steve Jobs, haven’t done as well and McDonalds doesn’t exactly have the cultural cachet these days that it once did. We’ll find out how much Oscar and box office potential The Founder has when it arrives in theaters and faces off against other awards season contender, later this year.
The Founder begins an Oscar-qualifying limited U.S. theatrical run on December 16, 2016. It goes into wide release on January 20th, 2017.