I don’t know why the release plan for Clint Eastwood‘s Letters from Iwo Jima has changed, but Variety editor Peter Bart is reporting today that a previously decided-upon January release date for the Japanese-language film — a kind of mirror version of Clint’s Flags of Our Fathers, which opens via Paramount/ DreamWorks on 10.20 — is apparently out the window.
I was told two or three weeks ago that Letters from Iwo Jima was going to come out sometime in early to mid January. But now, says Bart, who’s getting his information straight from Eastwood, it will open “two months” after Flags , or sometime in mid to late December.
“Thus,” Bart writes in a column posted today (it will appear in the Variety print version tomorrow), “the possibility exists that Clint will be the first filmmaker in history to have two films in awards contention in the same year, in two different languages.”
Eastwood is “now completing post-production on both films with an eye to opening both at the Tokyo Film Festival in October,” Bart writes. “The distribution pattern is predictably complex: Warner Bros. is handling both films overseas along with DreamWorks, now owned by Paramount, which is distributing em>Flags in the U.S. The production costs of the two films together is under $70 million. There are no big stars involved: Ryan Phillippe is in Flags and Ken Watanabe in Letters.”
The two Iwo Jima films will complement each other in interesting ways, Eastwood has told Bart.
“One scene in Flags shows American soldiers chatting in their foxhole, when suddenly one of them disappears, having been yanked into a tunnel by the Japanese. The Japanese film does not show the Americans, but rather the Japanese who are pulling down the American soldier.”
Variety‘s Pamela McLintock wrote an analysis story about the dual Iwo Jima pic release.
“Marketing and publicity execs at Warner Bros. and Paramount who are charged with opening [Eastwood’s] two Iwo Jima films believe it’s critical that the two movies be released within a short time of each other in the U.S. and Japan. However, they don’t want the films to crowd each other out. ‘Each movie needs its own space…it can’t be seen as a stunt,’ one marketing vet says.
“There are also a lot of generals in the mix. DreamWorks and Warner Bros. were the original partners on the films, but once DreamWorks was sold to Paramount, Par became involved.
“Paramount bows Flags of Our Fathers (the battle from the American viewpoint) next month in the U.S., while Warners begins opening Letters From Iwo Jima (told from the Japanese side and shot entirely in Japanese) in December. Warners is releasing Flags overseas, and Letters everywhere.”