Yesterday morning TheWrap‘s Sharon Waxman ran a piece that implied that the decision to delay George Clooney‘s Monuments Men was as much about getting it right as finishing the special effects in time. “It’s been a bit of a dance,” Clooney told Waxman earlier this month. “We’re trying to do the movie in the vein of war films, but you don’t want it to sound like The Great Escape. Those movies that were done in the ‘50s and ‘60s, they all had their own sort of life. You don’t want to do a replica, you have to do a new version.”

This is roughly the same thing Clooney told me on the Monuments Men set last May (“Monuments Memories“). “The Guns of Navarone doesn’t play so well any more,” Clooney quipped between takes. I wrote that he “was basically saying that if you’re going to make a good World War II film these days, you’ve got to improve upon the old models because they don’t fit the current sensibility.”

Clooney, however, didn’t like Waxman’s piece because he felt she was making unfair assumptions and because she didn’t check it through by reaching out to him. He got on the phone yesterday with Deadline‘s Michael Fleming and called her article “absolutely ridiculous and false.”

But he did admit that December 18th looked like a tough date for Monuments Men, given all the competition, and “se we said, where’s another good place to land? And we looked at February and the Shutter Island slot.” It seems to me that Clooney was implying that Monuments Men might not stand up to the competition as much as he and Sony might wish. Which sounds to me like a tacit way of saying his film might — I say MIGHT — be more of a double or triple rather than a homer, which is what people are always looking for in mid to mate December — homers. So it was probably wiser to open in February.

Clooney’s remarks about Waxman’s article as passed along to Fleming: “I was talking awhile ago about Gravity, [and] she says, ‘How’s it going on Monuments Men‘ and I say, ‘It’s a tricky tone,’ and she writes this piece that the movie is in trouble over tone. She doesn’t call me, and it’s absolutely ridiculous and false.”

“The straight-up facts are these. We had a really good test last week, scoring in the mid 80s, in Arizona. And when we were on the plane coming back with Jeff Blake, Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, they said look, let’s be honest. There are lots better times to bring this movie out than December 18. How about November 22? Can you do it? Now, today is our first day at the scoring stages at Abbey Road. Then they call and ask, how about the 15th of November? We like to pull stuff off, and we said, let’s see what we can do. That was two days ago.”

“We had a meeting with all the effects guys for our CGI stuff, and [they said] we’re just not going to get there in time. Then we looked at the date we had, December 18. I don’t know how many movies are opening, but it’s got to be the toughest December in recent memory for box office. We said, where’s another good place to land? And we looked at February and the Shutter Island slot.”