Arriving in Telluride as a surprise screening, it wasn't quite clear if "Butter" was going to be a dark horse Oscar contender, a "Little Miss Sunshine"-esque crowd pleaser or something in between. Certainly the premise is ripe for quirky indie hit, as the story follows Laura (Jennifer Garner), the wife of former butter sculpting champion Bob (Ty Burrell), who tries to take the mantle from her husband only to be thwarted by a young adopted African American girl (Yara Shahidi), who has discovered that she has a natural talent for making art out of butter. Hell, it even has Olivia Wilde playing a stripper, what's not to like?
But after playing Telluride and hitting TIFF this week, reviews have been mixed -- we said "the application of artificial warmth makes it a bit gooey and shapeless, its potential edge turned into a blunt lump" -- and it seems The Weinstein Company will be making a half-hearted Oscar play, but fully realizes this is one they'll have to position as a crowd pleaser instead. In a story about the film over at 24 Frames, they note that "Butter" will get a one-week run in October followed by a wide release in 2012.
What does this mean? Well, now that The Weinstein Company have seen the festival reaction to the movie from critics and audiences alike, they likely realize "Butter" won't be an Oscar card in their deck -- though they'll give it a one-week qualifying run for the hell of it -- and it'll be positioned as their starry ensemble comedy for next year (though let's hope they do a better job of it than they did "Our Idiot Brother"). So Oscar prognosticators, adjust your gambling sheets.
Meanwhile, perhaps realizing that "Everybody Loves Whales" is a bit too declarative, Universal has switched the title to the equally generic "Big Miracle" and given it a February 3, 2012 release date. Starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, and directed by "He's Just Not That Into You" helmer Ken Kwapis, the story follows a joint US/Soviet effort during the Cold War to save a trio of trapped whales. Awww. The movie arrives on a pretty quiet weekend that will also have the Daniel Radcliffe horror pic "The Woman In Black" and the superhero thingy "Chronicle" opening as well.