Alexander Payne's highly anticipated "The Descendants" starring George Clooney is now primed for an award season tilt later this year with Fox Searchlight handing the film a December 16th release date.
The Kaui Hart Hemmings adaptation, shot early last year. had been eyed as a possible late season contender before Payne himself revealed that post-production work would be going through to "January or February." Predictably though, the film has been held onto until the fall with the early sign of studio confidence in plotting it against "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" (both of whom are due on the same day) only raising our anticipation.
Co-scribed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, "The Descendants" follows the story of a wealthy Hawaiian man named Matt King (Clooney), who takes his daughters (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) on a road trip to find the man his wife has been having an affair with after a boating accident leaves her critically injured. Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, Robert Forster, Mary Birdsong and Nick Krause all co-star with some early word already promising.
Does this release date rule the film out of any Cannes appearance? Probably. Even though there were reports late last year that the film was potentially looking at a Croisette premiere coupled with a fourth quarter release, a fall festival unveiling at Fox Searchlight's stomping ground in Toronto would probably be the better bet.
The film will be Payne's first effort since critical darling "Sideways" in 2004 but, with any luck, it looks it won't be so long between drinks for the director next time. He already has his next project lined up with "Nebraska," a Robert Nelson-penned story which follows an aging alcoholic father who is joined on a road trip to Nebraska to collect a million dollar sweepstakes prize by his estranged 20-something son who doesn't believe the ticket is a winner. [BoxOfficeMojo]