Peter Jackson's $70-million The Lovely Bones, based on the Alice Sebold novel, is a fascinating case of a movie surrounded by speculation. The footage I've seen is gorgeous. And Paramount knows that it has to sell a thriller to one audience (placing the trailer in front of Twilight: New Moon) and a PG-13 family film to another. (The novel was both a mainstream and young adult bestseller.) But the main audience is adults: Paramount is confident enough in what they have to follow the Gran Torino approach, rolling the movie out limited December 11 in New York and Los Angeles, going wider Christmas Day, and really wide President's Day weekend. That film was finally the highest-grossing holiday film last year. Because they built on good word-of-mouth.
Paramount is also (contrary to some rumors), mounting a full-on Oscar campaign, including Saorise Ronan in best actress and Stanley Tucci in supporting. (He's also up for Julie & Julia.) I'm showing the film to Sneak Previews on December 16.
Other Oscar news on the jump:
Fox Searchlight isn't settling for Crazy Heart as their main Oscar contender; they are also pushing Maggie Gyllenhaal for best actress. While she's very good in the movie, she's a long-shot even for supporting actress. I see Crazy Heart as strictly a Jeff Bridges play, based on his entire career. But if the movie takes off on its own merits, then Gyllenhaal could enter the fray. They are also harboring hopes for their summer hit 500 Days of Summer, especially for the writers, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, who could have a shot in the always-slim original screenplay category, even though they are relative newbies.