The Weinstein Company surprised everyone yesterday when it was announced that John Hillcoat's "The Wettest County" was being pushed to the traditionally barren (at least quality-wise) Labor Day weekend from its previously scheduled April 20 release date. But as we guessed (and hoped), the move was not a case of the studio dumping the picture, but instead, making sure that what they see as a possible awards season contender has the best debut possible.
24 Frames caught up with Harvey Weinstein, who confirmed that he wants capitalize on Tom Hardy's seemingly inevitable post-"The Dark Knight Rises" fame as well as give "The Wettest County" a proper festival bow. “We have a star in Tom Hardy who’s completely anonymous right now. If you go to a line at the ArcLight nobody would know who he is,” Weinstein told 24 Frames, adding, “He’s going to be a huge movie star by August.”
Of course, that point is up for debate. Lionsgate likely thought they would have benefitted from some residual Hardy/"Inception" buzz with "Warrior," but that movie didn't fare so well. And we'd argue Hardy's recognition with mainstream America might be difficult if he's in a mask and speaking incomprehensibly as Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises." But hey, it doesn't hurt, right? That said, the movie itself doesn't rely on Hardy alone, stacked with Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska to round out the cast. And like we said yesterday, those are exactly the kind of folks any festival organizer wants walking down the red carpet.
“The idea is to go to Venice and then hit the domestic market right after,” Weinstein said. As for why he's selected the usually quiet Labor Day weekend, Weinstein says he's expecting the movie to do big business down South, where the story of the Prohibition era tale is set and where he thinks it will have some greater resonance. And don't think that Harv is gonna do the usual limited release, either. He's planning a full, nationwide release for this one "in several thousand theaters."
So mark your calendars (and maybe book your plane tickets). "The Wettest County" hits theaters on Friday, August 30, which seems to indicate it will be the opening film in Venice on August 29 (or play concurrently with the film's release on August 30). After the quiet release of "The Road," it looks like John Hillcoat's next effort is getting the royal treatment from Harv.