By Sarah Sluis
Awards season is months away, but Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin have already fought a few rounds over the release date (and Oscar chances) of The Reader and Revolutionary Road, two aspiring Academy Award
contenders starring Kate Winslet and produced by Scott Rudin. With a prime December 26th release date and positive buzz, Winslet was a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for Revolutionary Road.
Now, after a lengthy battle between power players Weinstein and Rudin, The Reader will release on December 12th, cannibalizing the Revolutionary Road release and creating a publicity dilemna, while also opening up the possibility that Winslet could win two nominations and then split the Oscar vote.
The Weinstein Company has been dealing with various business and legal challenges as of late, which partly explains why Harvey pushed so hard to move forward the release date. Needless to say, he has burned some bridges in the process, and much of the fallout has already hit the Internet. An email purportedly surfaced from Rudin talking about Weinstein trying to finagle editorial rights out of Minghella on his deathbed, which spurred a Page Six fight.
As a prelude to the subsequent rounds of power plays that this decision will engender, I have put together a brief primer to help you place your bets:
In one corner, The Reader:
- Producers Sydney Pollock AND Anthony Minghella passed away this year, and we all know what happens to the value of artists' canvases after they die. However, both of these producers have already won the coveted Best Director Oscar (Pollack for Out of Africa and Minghella for The English Patient), so it's not like this would be a chance to reward someone overlooked in their lifetime.
- With a WWII-related topic, war criminals and Nazis, the material is tried-and-true Oscar fodder.
In the other corner, Revolutionary Road:
- This is Kate Winslet's "passion project." She enlisted her husband, Sam Mendes, as the director, and got Leonardo DiCaprio to re-team with her. Personally invested in this project, she has the power to work the talk show hosts to her advantage when she promotes both of these films.
- Rival The Reader is still in post-production, giving Revolutionary Road an edge both in terms of film quality and marketing campaigns--I still haven't seen The Reader's trailer, but Revolutionary Road has released the trailer over the internet and in theatres. Their marketing team also bought a two-minute trailer spot on Mad Men this Sunday to show the full trailer. Given both the film and television show's focus on retro suburban ennui, the tie-in was spot-on, making Gold Rush, The Hollywood Reporter's year-round awards blog, take notice.
With both films receiving strong advance buzz, it's a shame to pit them against each other. Of course, any internal competition or sabotage of these films would only end up hurting producer Scott Rudin and star Kate Winslet, who have both put much effort into the success of these film. Stay tuned, the fight is certainly not over!