As I didn’t say yesterday, one reasons Paramount decided to takeThe Soloist out of the year-end awards game (i.e., shifting its release date from 11.21.08 to 3.13.09) was to open thngs up Oscar-potential-wise for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Revolutionary Road. Another reason, many suspect, was that Viacom’s Sumner Redstone wanted to pass along a little “up yours” message to Soloist producer DreamWorks in the wake of their rancorous split.
On top of which the Joe Wright drama, which I did mention yesterday, is thought in some quarters to be a little schmaltzy and therefore perhaps lacking the stellar chops that a strong year-end Best Picture contender should have. Which isn’t to say it’s a problem film. I’ve heard from two sources that it’s somewhere between very good, good and not bad.
The Shine-like story of Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez‘s relationship with a homeless musician, The Soloist was looking at the very least like a possible uptick opportunity for costars Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx regarding possible year-end acting honors and distinctions. No more!
Here’s Patrick Goldstein‘s take in his Big Picture bloggy-blog, which is still difficult to find and a huge pain in the ass for that.
“Paramount apparently told its partners, as well as top CAA brass, who represent most of the talent on the picture, that the studio was under pressure from Viacom superiors to cut costs, having recently acknowledged that it was thinning out its future release schedule. With even Sumner Redstone being forced to sell stock to keep his investments afloat, the studio was forced to take drastic measures. With four potential Oscar movies slated for year-end release, something had to give.
“It certainly wasn’t going to be The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, an expensive and much-anticipated Brad Pitt and David Fincher collaboration that studio chief Brad Grey has already publicly embraced as his ticket to a front-row seat Feb. 22nd at the Kodak Theater. And it certainly wasn’t going to be Revolutionary Road, a Scott Rudin-produced literary drama with a star too big to offend (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the kind of rarified subject matter that desperately needs Oscar buzz to sell tickets.
“That left the studio’s Ed Zwick-directed drama, Defiance, which is a long-shot for Oscars, but still enough of a contender that while it’s being pushed back to late December, is still getting an Oscar qualifying run before going wide in January.
“That made The Soloist the low man on the totem pole, since it conceivably has enough commercial potential to make a dent at the box office in the spring without the benefit of any Oscar coattails. Since the film was produced by Dreamworks, which just concluded an ugly divorce with Paramount, the inside chatter has focused on the idea that Paramount is somehow punishing Dreamworks by robbing the departing Spielberg team of any Oscar glory.”