When Open Road Films managed to snag the rights to co-writer/director Joe Carnahan's The Grey, there was a good deal of buzz about how star Liam Neeson's performance in the rugged wilderness survival thriller is the sort that virtually screams "Oscar nomination." However, the film was ultimately not given a limited Oscar-qualifying theatrical run in 2011, which would've allowed it to be a contender in the 84th Academy Awards.
Jump to the present and Carnhan is saying that The Grey was not merely "dumped" in January because Open Road feels it doesn't have awards potential. In fact, the studio plans to re-release the flick in theaters during the fall of 2012, in order to remind Academy members about Neeson's turn in the film.
The Grey has (at the time of writing this) a 81% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with even critical naysayers so far offering praise for Neeson's turn in the film as Ottway - the paternal figure in a group of oil roughnecks who are stranded in the frozen Alaskan tundra (after their jet crashes) and must survive the deadly elements, including a hungry pack of wolves that pick up their trail.
Carnahan, in a recent interview with The Playlist, revealed that The Grey was originally supposed to begin showing at film festivals during 2011, but that the combination of an extended post-production period due to some significant effects work - and Neeson being busy, having started work on Taken 2 - that simply was not feasible.
Furthermore, the filmmaker also mentioned that Open Road now plans to re-release The Grey sometime during October of this year - which should help to "remind" Academy voters that the Neeson-starring vehicle is fair game, as far as acting nominations go.
Neeson has been nominated for an acting Oscar once in the past, for his work on Schindler's List, but otherwise the fan-favorite Irish actor (who turns 60 this June) has yet to be recognized by his immediate peers for his film work. The man has surprisingly become a true action icon in recent years, thanks to his turns in films like Batman Begins, Taken, The A-Team, and Unknown; between his wolf-fighting role in The Grey and other upcoming turns in films like Battleship and the aforementioned Taken sequel, Neeson's popularity as an onscreen badass certainly shouldn't falter anytime soon.
In other words: rest assured, there will definitely be plenty of casual moviegoers cheering Neeson on to become a serious contender to take home the gold in the 2012 Oscars race.
Be sure to check back for Screen Rant's official review of The Grey, which opens in U.S. theaters this Friday, January 27th, 2012.
Source: The Playlist