UPDATE, 10:36 AM: Sony and 20th Century Fox have found their February date: Monuments Men will be released February 7, 2014, we’ve learned. That date jibes what with George Clooney told us exclusively yesterday. It also means MGM and Sony’s RoboCop will move five days to open on Wednesday, February 12, ahead of the four-day President’s Day weekend that this year includes Valentine’s Day on that Friday. As part of the release plan rethink, Sony also is moving Sony and Annapurna Pictures’ American Hustle up a week — the film will now open wide December 18 after opening in limited release December 13.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, WEDNESDAY AM: Last night, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox moved the George Clooney-directed Monuments Men from December 18 to early next year. It took less than an hour for Internet wonks to look for signs of trouble, even though Clooney said he simply couldn’t complete the visual effects and music in time to make the date. Rather than watch a repeat of what his pal Brad Pitt went through when people were inscribing World War Z headstones before anybody saw that film, Clooney asked for the opportunity to explain on Deadline. Who says no to George Clooney?
He was troubled enough to call from the Abbey Road Studios in London after reading a ridiculous “exclusive” Sharon Waxman splash on TheWrap that claimed Clooney had confided that his struggles were over tone. “I was talking awhile ago about Gravity, she says, ‘How’s it going on Monuments Men‘ and I say, ‘It’s a tricky tone,’ and she writes this piece that the movie is in trouble over tone. She doesn’t call me, and it’s absolutely ridiculous and false.”
What it sounds like to me is the same situation that Martin Scorsese went through with Paramount when they could not get Shutter Island ready before year end and moved the film to a February 19, 2010, berth. It too moved out of the Oscar corridor, but like Monuments Men, it wasn’t viewed by the studio as an Oscar entry as much as for being a crowd-pleasing potential blockbuster. All alone in the marketplace, Shutter Island grossed $128 million domestic and $295 million worldwide.
“The straight-up facts are these,” Clooney told me. “We had a really good test last week, scoring in the mid 80s, in Arizona. And when we were on the plane coming back with Jeff Blake, Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, they said look, let’s be honest. There are lots better times to bring this movie out than December 18. How about November 22? Can you do it? Now, today is our first day at the scoring stages at Abbey Road. Then they call and ask, how about the 15th of November? We like to pull stuff off, and we said, let’s see what we can do. That was two days ago.”
Clooney then consulted the guys who are providing the effects, and got a dose of reality. “We had a meeting with all the effects guys for our CGI stuff, and, we’re just not going to get there in time,” he said. “Then we looked at the date we had, December 18. I don’t know how many movies are opening, but it’s got to be the toughest December in recent memory for box office. We said, where’s another good place to land? And we looked at February and the Shutter Island slot.”