UPDATE 4:30PM: Paramount Chief Brad Grey has now released a statement: “Our 2009 slate was greenlit in a very different economic climate and as a result we must remain flexible and willing to recalibrate and adapt to a changing environment. This is a situation facing every single studio as we all work through the financial pressures associated with the broader downturn. Like every business, we must make difficult choices to maximize our overall success and to best manage Paramount’s business in a way that serves Viacom and its shareholders, while providing the film with every possible chance to succeed both creatively and financially.
“Leonardo DiCaprio is among the most talented actors working today and Martin Scorsese is not just one of the world’s most significant filmmakers, but also a personal friend. Following a highly successful 2009, we have every confidence that Shutter Island is a great anchor to lead off our 2010 slate and the shift in date is the best decision for the film, the studio and ultimately Viacom.”
EXCLUSIVE 10:40AM: This Shutter Island decision is now the second major studio pic to jump from Fall 2009 to February 2010 (after Universal’s The Wolfman recently moved off November). But Paramount’s adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel directed by Marty Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio looked entrenched for October 2nd and this coming awards season. For godsakes, the pic is already on people’s Oscar list. Such a surprise delay is just going to compound all the buzz surrounding the picture and its great trailer released in June. An insider tells me. “It tested in the high 80s/low 90s and Scorsese even brought it down to 2 hours.” So what’s the problem? I hear that Paramount told the filmmakers it doesn’t have the financing in 2009 to spend the $50M to $60M necessary to market a big awards pic like this. (But a studio source insists to me it’s got the cash, just not the home video sales: “Given where the DVD business is in 2009, our only hope is the economy and the retail business rebounds in 2010 because the hardest hit segment has been movies that play to an older adult audience,” a studio source tells me.) *UPDATE: I’m also told that, among the many reasons for the move, Leo wasn’t going to be available to promote the pic internationally.* So the studio settled on the release date of February 19th because “that’s when Silence Of The Lambs came out” back in 1991 and it won the Oscar. “Now that the Academy has expanded Best Picture to 10 films,” my insider notes, “it will be easier for a movie that came out in the beginning of the year to get nominated.”