2011 for Steven Spielberg is much more difficult than it was in 2005 -- the last time the super-prolific filmmaker released two films in one year. In 2005, you had "War of the Worlds" in the summer and six months later you had "Munich," and very little had to be done by way of managing time between Paramount ("War of the Worlds") and Universal ("Munich").
Come 2011, it's a much different story. Within days of each other Spielberg is releasing his mo-cap 3D four-quadrant-friendly "The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn" (Paramount) and his serious, Oscar-bait picture "War Horse" (Touchstone Pictures/Disney). You can bet that both studios are hyper aware of each others' release plans and they're likely sharing and planning his time accordingly. It's likely a huge PR nightmare, but for the director it's all gravy -- one picture to put him in Oscar contention, one picture to secure his position on the adventure-film blockbuster mantle.
But it's all a game of dominoes. Thus when Paramount earlier today announced that 'The Adventures of Tintin' was jumping up two days early on its North American release from December 23 to December 21, you knew another announcement was forthcoming.
And yep, with a few more days of breathing room, Touchstone has moved "War Horse" up from December 28 to Christmas Day, December 25. This picture is based on the acclaimed stage play and follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War I. Despite being too young to enlist, Albert heads to France to save his friend. The picture stars a treasure trove of excellent English talent like Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis, Eddie Marsan, Peter Mullan, Toby Kebbell, Emily Watson and in the role of the young boy, newcomer Jeremy Irvine. Surely this one is headed for some kind of major Oscar play.
'Tintin' on the other hand is the exact opposite -- an 'Indiana Jones'-like adventure epic based on the work of Belgian author/artist Hergé that will look like recent Robert Zemeckis films: all motion-captured work. The film stars the voice (and body-captured performances of) Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Cary Elwes, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis. Written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish ("Attack the Block"), should there be a sequel, 'Tintin' producer Peter Jackson will direct. It won't be awards bound other than visual effects, but it'll be interesting to see if this internationally-beloved comic translates on screens in North America.
Making things even more interesting? Another film with Daniel Craig comes out on December 21 -- David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," but of course the real thing won't really be competing with the mo-capped version. [BOM]