UPDATE: Yes, it's official. Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" will hit theaters December 25, as we expected would be the case when Paramount announced it would push back its Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan reboot "Shadow Recruit" to President's Day weekend in 2014.
Per THR, Scorsese's original cut of the film, adapted from former stockbroker party boy Jordan Belfort's bestselling novel, clocked in at 180 minutes. Thus Paramount had to do away with the film's original November 15 release to give the director time to trim it down. It's now 165 minutes.
EARLIER: As various films move in and out of this season's awards lineup, George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" has been given a release date: February 7, 2014. Meanwhile, David O. Russell's "American Hustle" has been moved forward by a week, to a limited release on December 13, and a wide release December 18.
EARLIER: Every year the film festivals serve as a litmus test of which films have the right stuff to go the Oscar distance. Falling out of the awards fray early on, in typical Weinstein survival-of-the-fittest fashion, was Cannes entry "The Immigrants," James Gray's monotonous period drama, as well as yet unseen Nicole Kidman vehicle "Grace of Monaco." Soon to follow was Bennett Miller's true wrestling murder drama "Foxcatcher," from Sony Pictures Classics, which needed more finishing time. And after early word from various reps that George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" was not chasing Oscars, we now find out that there was a question of meeting the release deadline all along. Clooney told the LA Times the postponement to 2014 was about not going out with "cheesy" visual effects. That's unlikely the only reason.
Sony motion picture chairman Amy Pascal is invested, right now, after a rocky year at the box office, in delivering at least one home run at the holidays. Better to give Clooney the time to massage his movie into commercial perfection than to go out half-cocked---especially if the Oscars weren't an end-goal. This is equivalent to Paramount giving Martin Scorsese more time to burnish his Dennis Lehane adaptation "Shutter Island," which moved from late 2009 to early 2010, with positive results.
Thus Sony's big year-end Oscar play is David O. Russell's 70s comedy-drama "American Hustle" (December 13), which is financed, like last year's "Zero Dark Thirty," by Megan Ellison's Annapurna. The fictional ABSCAM scandal story stars "The Fighter"'s Christian Bale and Amy Adams and "Silver Lining Playbook"'s Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Russell, per usual, is previewing the picture to gauge audience reaction as he fine-tunes the edit. Sony also boasts strong Oscar contender "Captain Phillips," which is both a critical and audience hit.
Meanwhile Paramount was supposed to open Scorsese's based-on-a-true-80s-story "The Wolf of Wall Street," adapted from Jordan Belfort's memoir, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey, on November 15. Scorsese and his editor Thelma Schoonmaker have been scrambling to get the film under three hours. It looks like it will hit screens on Christmas Day, as Paramount has pushed back to President's Day weekend 2014 the Tom Clancy reboot "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," which the studio had never intended as an awards contender.
But both "Wall Street" and "Hustle" boast a similar broad comedic tone and look back at an earlier American era, much the way "Argo" did last year. Is there room in the competitive Oscar race for both? The thinner field could open things up for other late entries, among them Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace" (December 6) also starring Bale, which Relativity chose not to take to the major fall festivals, but will debut at LA's AFI FEST, along with Peter Berg's war drama "Lone Survivor," starring Mark Wahlberg, which starts industry screenings next week in advance of Universal's December 27 qualifying run.