By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist July 7, 2011 at 5:45AM
It was only a couple of weeks ago when it was announced that Marc Forster's "Machine Gun Preacher," a potential Oscar vehicle for Gerard Butler, was moving from Lionsgate to Relativity who planned to give the film the full awards season treatment. And it looks like they are going to get this one out of the gate pretty damn early.
Relativity has announced that the film will kick off in limited release in New York and Los Angeles on September 23rd before rolling out to more cities in the weeks to follow. It might seem far too early to start an Oscar bid but the studio is likely hoping to use that time build critical consensus and word of mouth about the film that deals with some challenging material. Based on a true story, it's a biopic of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing Hell’s Angel who found God, set up an orphanage in Sudan in the 1990s, and then formed a militia to prevent the children from being turned into child soldiers. Butler plays Childer, with a decent cast including Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Kathy Baker and Souleymane Sy Savane in support, and Marc Forster, who had moderate success in the awards race a few years back with both “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland,” is at the helm. All the ingredients are there, but will it work?
The filmmakers think so. Forster personally asked Lionsgate to move the film to a studio that would give it awards season push he thinks it deserves and early word is that Butler's performance is truly something great. With the release now just a few months away, we'd guess trailer will pop up soon giving us a taste, and it seems inevitable that critics will get to sample it at TIFF. "And the winner is....Gerard Butler"? We don't believe it now, but we're willing to be convinced. [Deadline]