When Columbia decided several weeks ago against putting Mike Binder‘s Reign O’er Me into the derby by opening it in early December, one of the factors, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, was that “Columbia had a heavy fall/Xmas slate (four films) and they didn’t want to add another film to that list in the first place,”
Those films were All The King’s Men, Running With Scissors, Stranger Than Fiction and The Pursuit of Happyness.
It’s funny how things change so quickly. Here is it only late September (four or five weeks after writing that short article) and two of those films — King’s Men and Fiction — are dead in the water as far as Oscar aspirations are concerned, and a third — Running With Scissors — is looking…well, I don’t know how it’s looking, but not sending it to Toronto was some kind of hint.
That leaves only Gabrielle Muccino‘s The Pursuit of Happyness, a kind of Kramer vs. Kramer father-son heart-tugger in which Will Smith costars with his son, at a stand-out contender of any kind. And you never know with a Will Smith movie. No matter the vehicle, he has to be the “movie star” and that means endless opportu- nities for “charm”, cloying-ness and Smith-schtick.
Another reason weighing against Reign opening in December, I wrote, was the fact that Columbia “already has two funny guys giving dramatic performances — Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction and Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness — so do the math.” Even with Ferrell out of the picture, the Smith vs. Sandler equation still stands and this, I believe, is finallly why Reign was bumped into March-April of ’07.
Columbia wanted the playground free and clear for Smith’s presumed (i.e., hoped for) Best Actor nomination. They didn’t want another Sandler’s Reign performnace getting in the way, even as a vague competitive possibility.