By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 9, 2013 at 3:31PM
Last year it was Quentin Tarantino who was rushing to meet unforgiving deadlines in order for "Django Unchained" to make the holidays--and the Oscar race. That was a pretty powerful incentive. His movie wound up winning Oscars for his screenplay and Christoph Waltz for best supporting actor, and grossed a nifty $425 million worldwide.
Miss the lucrative Christmas break and the Oscar race push and you enter a more unforgiving first quarter or summer season. This year Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" has been under scrutiny, as the director is legendary for his long cuts (this one was said to be 180 minutes long at one point) and editing room fussing. It made sense to push back Scorsese's "Shutter Island," which didn't have Oscar written all over it, as well as the summer move for Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," which lost money but not as much as it would have if it had gone out against 2012's Oscar juggernauts.
Now Roger Friedman reports that Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker are trying to deliver “The Wolf of Wall Street” to Paramount at a "reasonable length" by November 25 (it was originally scheduled to open November 15) , and THR suggests that it would then open on Christmas Day, in the "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" slot. That non-Oscar bait movie would then move back to January.
November 25 is still very late. It's possible that "Django Unchained" would have been a stronger awards competitor had it been screened for all the Guilds and critics groups and Golden Globe voters much earlier. Also, Harvey Weinstein withheld mailing screeners because he wanted the film to be seen in theaters. After November 25, Scorsese is scheduled to leave for the Marrakesh Film Festival to serve as jury chief.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in "The Wolf of Wall Street" (based on Jordan Belfort's best-selling memoir) along with Matthew McConnaughey, who's a strong Best Actor contender for "Dallas Buyers' Club," with other recent strong roles building his overall sense of being overdue, including "Mud." Other films in this year's robust Oscar Best Picture pack include frontrunners "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave," plus "Captain Phillips" and "Blue Jasmine." Still to be reviewed are "Saving Mr. Banks," "Her," "American Hustle," and "Monuments Men."
Recent NYFF players "Nebraska," "All is Lost," "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" need boosts from critics and audiences to land best picture slots, and may have to settle for writing, acting or tech nominations. Other acting contenders include Weinstein Co. entries "Philomena," "August: Osage County," and "The Butler." TWC's "Mandela" and "Fruitvale Station" may not have the right stuff against more powerful rivals.