Clint Eastwood's crime drama The Mule is scheduled for a December 2018 release date. At 88 years old, the Hollywood icon isn't letting his age slow him down, and Eastwood remains as prolific as ever. Shortly after releasing The 15:17 to Paris this past February, he quickly lined up his next project. Eastwood not only directs The Mule, but also stars as Earl Stone - the titular 90-year old drug mule whose actions attract the attention of the DEA. The film sees Eastwood reunite with his American Sniper star Bradley Cooper, who plays DEA agent Colin Bates.
Though the pieces on The Mule only fell into place a handful of months ago, there was a prevailing belief it would be ready for release by the end of this year. Eastwood famously works quite efficiently and typically completes his projects quickly. That proved to be the case on The Mule, and the holiday release calendar just got a little more crowded.
According to Deadline, Warner Bros. was impressed by what Eastwood did with the material and will release The Mule on December 14. They are giving it a wide theatrical release, positioning it against Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Mortal Engines, and the Dick Cheney biopic Vice.
With WB also behind this year's perennial Oscar juggernaut A Star is Born, it reads as a curious decision for them to drop another major picture right in the middle of awards season. However, Deadline says The Mule is being positioned more as a commercial play and likely won't get a big Oscar push. That's probably for the best, seeing that Star is Born established itself as a clear frontrunner following highly successful festival screenings. Of course, studios are more than capable of campaigning for two Best Picture contenders in the same season, but WB will likely put everything they have behind Star is Born, meaning anything else they have under their umbrella should be pushed to the back burner (in terms of the Oscar race). The Mule still could land some nominations of its own, depending on how it pans out.
Aquaman should be a big hit for WB over Christmas, but The Mule gives the studio a solid counter-programming option that will appeal to moviegoers looking for a reprieve from the usual genre fare. It stands reason to believe the film will do well for itself during its opening weekend, as its target demographic is different from an animated superhero movie or a fantasy novel adaptation. In recent years, Eastwood can be hit or miss with his directorial output, so it'll be interesting to see how The Mule is. WB certainly seems confident in it, which bodes well for its overall prospects.