This year's fall movie season has seen a series of shake-ups and delays to several high-profile releases and potential awards contenders.
Moneyball director Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carell as schizophrenic industrial heir John Du Pont, and Grace of Monaco, featuring Nicole Kidman as movie-star-turned-princess Grace Kelly, have both been pushed back to 2014. Martin Scorcese's Wolf of Wall Street 2013 release seemed up in the air before finally securing a Christmas Day opening, which pushes Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit to next year.
We can now add George Clooney's The Monuments Men to the delayed list. According to the LA Times, the World War II-set drama - about a special group of military men whose mission was to retrieve and protect stolen artwork and famous monuments from the Nazis - will not make its previously-slated December 18, 2013 opening date, and will now be released in 2014, possibly in February.
According to Clooney who directed, stars and co-wrote with Grant Heslov (who directed Clooney in The Men Who Stare At Goats), "We just didn't have enough time." Specifically, the film's visual effects would not be finished in time to make the original release date. Clooney elaborated:
"If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy. We simply don't have enough people to work enough hours to finish it."
While the move makes The Monuments Men ineligible for any 2013 awards consideration, Clooney stressed that the filmmakers never had any such thing in mind for the film, and that he wanted it ready for December to echo the box-office success of the previous Ocean's Eleven films (which opened in that month). According to Clooney:
"All we've ever said, from the very beginning, is that we wanted to make a commercial, non-cynical piece of entertainment."
Apparently, Clooney and Heslov knew they were facing an uphill battle to make a December release: production began in March and wrapped in July - and this was a complicated period piece, which includes a recreation of D-Day, and features a star-studded cast (including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Bob Balaban and Jean Dujardin).
Clooney acknowledged the project's scope, a first for him:
"This is a bigger film than we usually do. It was a mad rush to do it from the very beginning."
Clooney added that a rushed post-production schedule would result in a sub-par product, saying:
"It wasn't going to be finished, and I wouldn't want to have my name on it. You don't want it to look like a film that was all done in the computer."
The move leaves Sony Pictures - which is distributing the film in the United States - with only one big fall release: David O. Russell's American Hustle - which might see a change in its release date, too (so far nothing is certain). If the studio is nervous about the change, they are hiding it well, and appear to have a lot of confidence that the move is for the best.
According to vice chairman Jeff Blake:
“We haven’t even had time to digest it yet. But the main thing is that it’s a big, commercial movie.”
The newest trailer for The Monuments Men highlights the more serious aspects of the mission at hand (whereas the first trailer was a bit funnier). From the beginning, it looked like Clooney and company had a serious Oscar contender on deck, with shades of last year's Best Picture winner, Argo: critically beloved director, an amazing true story, and a great cast.
By refusing to rush post-production, Clooney and Heslov illustrate an admirable commitment to delivering a quality picture, one that hopefully delivers on the newer trailer's promise to portray The Monuments Men and their deeper motivation to preserve culture, a way of life and by extension, creative and artistic freedom itself. Some studios might not have gone for this... but someone with George Clooney's A-list clout typically gets his way.
The Monuments Men will be released in 2014, possibly in February.
Source: LA Times