Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game, is now set to begin an Oscar-qualifying limited theatrical release on Christmas Day, before going into wide release in 2018. Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner star in the film, which tells the true story of Molly Bloom (Chastain) – a former Olympic-class skier who launched a high-stakes poker game for celebrities and mobsters alike. The movie drew positive notices during its tour on the film festival circuit back in September.
Sorkin created Sports Night (which only lasted two seasons), before he went on to write A Few Good Men. He later created The West Wing (a hugely influential show that he departed after the fourth season), as well as the short-lived TV series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Thereafter, Sorkin earned an Oscar for writing the screenplay for The Social Network and created the HBO TV drama The Newsroom, which ran for three seasons. Prior to making Molly’s Game, Sorkin also wrote the script for the Danny Boyle-directed Steve Jobs biopic, starring Michael Fassbender as the eponymous tech CEO.
Deadline has confirmed that Molly’s Game is now set to open in select U.S. theaters on December 25th, then go into wide release on January 5th, 2018. This release date switch moves Molly’s Game away from the opening weekend for Pixar’s animated film Coco (which is still launching over the Thanksgiving 2017 frame), along with other smaller films, like the drama Chappaquiddick. Both Molly’s Game and the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks historical drama, The Papers (itself, based on a true story), will be debuting in a handful of theaters over the impending winter holiday season, in order to qualify for Oscar consideration in 2018.
As mentioned earlier, Molly’s Game received largely positive reviews during its showing at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, with particular praise going to the performances of Chastain and Elba (who plays Molly’s lawyer in the movie). This reception no doubt encouraged STX Films to better position Sorkin’s film and make certain that it doesn’t get left in the dust by the many other award-hopeful features that will be hitting theaters over the last two months of 2017.
With that said: can Molly’s Game compete for awards attention in any significant way? It’s quite possible. Sorkin himself certainly has an Oscar pedigree, as does Chastain, and the film sports a unique hook and a very strong top-to-bottom cast that also includes the likes of Brian D’Arcy James, Chris O’Dowd, and Michael Cera. It’s not hard to imagine the film gaining some traction in the Oscar race to come.
On the other hand, Sorkin’s work has a tendency to be hit-or-miss and STX Films has struggled to bring awards season attention to its critical darlings in the past (see last year’s The Edge of Seventeen, for case in point). Whether or not Molly’s Game can buck that trend, remains to be seen.
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