UPDATED WRITETHRU: There’s fallout today from Paramount’s newly announced decision to release 20 movies a year. Already bigwigs are shuffling the 2008-2009 release schedule — and that has Oscar ramifications for one pic. I can tell you that DreamWorks is very upset because Paramount is taking its Robert Downey Jr-Jamie Foxx starrer The Soloist out of Academy Awards contention by moving it from a limited release on November 21st until March 13, 2009. This is extreme since ads on all sorts of media platforms have already started appearing for the Oscar-touted movie based on Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez’ accounts of a homeless violin player. Soloist insiders fear the delay will prompt a lot of web speculation that something is “wrong” with Joe Wright’s pic when everything is right. I’m surprised especially because Downey has really good awards season and box office heat from Iron Man. But Paramount instead will be pushing the actor for Tropic Thunder consideration.
Paramount also is delaying its Vantage pic Defiance, the Ed Zwick-directed Academy Award hopeful starring Daniel Craig in the true story of four Jewish brothers battling the Nazis. The movie was supposed to come out December 12th, but it will be pushed back to an Oscar-qualifying run on December 31st, and then go wide January 16th. So the delay won’t interfere with its 2008 Oscar chances. By the way, these release delays for Defiance and The Soloist won’t affect their opening and closing the Los Angeles’ AFI International Film Festival starting November 30.
Conspiracy theorists will postulate that Paramount did all this so it could put more of its Oscar campaign money into The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Revolutionary Road this year. “But it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the metrics of managing its numbers,” one Paramount exec tells me. In English, that means more of the “economic reality” which studio boss Brad Grey explained to Paramount employees yesterday in that house memo. The studio is looking for “consistency of product” now that it’s releasing 20 movies a year so I’m told it took these steps to make sure “we don’t have a giant hole next year,” in the words of one bigwig