Ask a number of awards prognosticators around town: If they had to make a bet in Las Vegas on a surefire Oscar contender right now, it would be Lionsgate’s La La Land, which just won the awards-bellwether People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Lionsgate just announced that instead of debuting the Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone musical in limited theaters on December 2, they’ll now step back to December 9. As originally planned, the wide break for the Damien Chazelle-directed Los Angeles-based pic remains December 16. That’s the same weekend that Disney’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes over every multiplex along with Warner Bros./New Line’s Collateral Beauty and STX Entertainment’s The Space Between Us.
Lionsgate’s decision to hold the Summit Entertainment production a week is good. The weekend following Black Friday is a death zone at the box office. Even though La La Land is making a play for art house adults that weekend, they too are tired of moviegoing having indulged in it post-Thanksgiving. Should La La Land land key Golden Globe and SAG award nominations on December 12 and December 14, respectively, that will fuel the musical’s momentum heading into its wide release.
On the specialty circuit, La La Land will now bump up against Fox Searchlight’s Natalie Portman headliner Jackie as well as Pablo Larrain’s other critically acclaimed title Neruda from Orchard. It may just be the first time a director has ever had two films open against each other in the same weekend.