Award-season films are suddenly dropping like flies. It began with the date-shifting of Grace of Monaco. Then the discrediting of Diana (which no one ever thought was going to be good, much less exceptional). Then the possible postponement of Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street (please, please stay the course, Paramount!). And now Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher — a 12.20 Sony Classics release that’s been drop-kicked into 2014. Look at the trailer, for God’s sake. Solemn mood, refined chops and what is clearly an exceptional, possibly nominatable Steve Carell performance. (Plus a very interesting one from Channing Tatum.) The season has just become less interesting, less dimensional. One less highly nutritious film for December. (I’ve read the script — trust me.) I for one feel cheated, shortchanged. If I were Carell right now I’d be punching the refrigerator door like nobody’s business.
I gather that this decision was made due to a consensus of opinion that the film wasn’t quite ready to go out — that the most recent cut hadn’t realized the full potential of the story and/or the material. The trailer tells you that Foxcatcher is highly atmospheric (psychologically and otherwise) and fascinating from a performance aspect alone, so if there’s a problem (and I say IF) it’s probably the old third-act bugaboo — i.e., the ending doesn’t quite bring it home. I also suspect that Sony Classics, known as a cost-conscious outfit, was concerned all along that a dark, downish, psychologically complex murder tale set in various soggy Pennsylvania locales in the ’90s might not be able to hold its own in a competitive end-of-the-year atmosphere.
Foxcatcher is about the very curious 1996 murder of competitive wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) by John Eleuthere du Pont (Carell), a highly eccentric millionaire. Tatum plays Mark Schultz, Dave’s younger athlete brother who also wrestled (and whose book about the murder is the basis of the screenplay, which was cowritten by Dan Futterman). Pic costars Vanessa Redgrave (as Jean du Pont’s mother, Liseter Austin), Anthony Michael Hall as du Pont’s assistant and Sienna Miller as Dave’s wife.
Miller began developing the project in 2007. Megan Ellison is co-financing the film with Columbia Pictures, and producing alongside Miller and Anthony Bregman for her company, Annapurna Pictures.