Reader reports, audience reviews… meh. Sure you can keep tabs on that “coverage,” but posting about that stuff specifically can be hurtful or irresponsible to a film if the “reviews” are early and especially if they’re negative (hell, on the Internet they’re pretty easy to fabricate in either direction too). Finding out “early buzz” on a movie through test screenings isn’t hard if you’re looking for it. So that said, we’d been hearing a few whispers about “Child 44” and perhaps today’s news jibes with it.
It's got a strong pedigree around it: it's directed by Daniel Espinosa ("Easy Money" and "Safe House") and it stars Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joel Kinnaman, Noomi Rapace, Jason Clarke of “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes,” Paddy Considine and Dev Patel one of the stars of “Slumdog Millionaire.” That’s a pretty fantastic cast in anyone’s book, so the drama/thriller seems obvious to land during the awards season, right? Maybe not so much.
Lionsgate/Summit have announced a date for the film and its April 17, 2015. Sure, that’s in the heart of smart indie season (see “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Under The Skin” and “Enemy” from this year), but to date the movie before the fall film festival (where we presume it will premiere) season seems… a little odd. Clearly, "Child 44" is not being seen as a contender, and we'd wager probably plays as more a genre piece than anything or the studio doesn't believe it has the weight to swing with the bigger movies coming this fall.
Anyway, what's "Child 44" about? Set in Stalin-era Soviet Union, the story centers on a disgraced MGB agent who is dispatched to investigate a series of child murders -- a case that begins to connect with the very top of party leadership.
Does this mean it’s going to bypass TIFF, Telluride, Venice, et al? Hard to say. If they think it's decent thriller and nothing more and want early buzz, sure. If they don't want to risk middling to negative reviews, perhaps. The one route they could have taken was to gamble on the response from the film fest circuit and then date the movie. But to preemptively date it before it’s been shown in the fall… what can I say, if I were a betting man, I’d say this film will skip the circuit. I could be wrong and I hope I am. Maybe it’s just your good ol’ smart indie? Time will tell…