The Letters from Iwo Jima-opening-in-December story that The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil reported Tuesday night (and which I later confirmed through an exhibition source and posted a followup story on around 11 pm Tuesday) has been confirmed in a Pamela McLintock Variety story that will be in the print edition on Thursday morning.
Last night and all day today Warner Bros. publicists dummied up and wouldn’t officially confirm the story. I’ve been told that Hollywood Reporter also called more than once and got no confirmations either. Obviously the fix was in for Variety to deliver the official, exclusive confirmation, a deal presumedly grandfathered by Variety editor Peter Bart‘s friendship with Letters driector Clint Eastwood.
McClintock’s story says Warner Bros. is moving up the release date of Eastwood’s Japanese-language Iwo Jima war flick from 2.9.07 to 12.20.06, which obviously puts it into the running for Best Picture and whatever else. The film will open that day — Wednesday, 12.20 — in L.A. and New York, and possibly also in San Francisco, her story said.
McLintock reports that Eastwood “approached Warners about the date change for Letters after consulting with Steven Spielberg, who brought in Eastwood to direct Flags for DreamWorks.” I heard tonight that DreamWorks marketing stategist Terry Press has been pushing the date change also. The 12.20 date was “locked in early Wednesday evening, as Eastwood was in Japan to promote Letters,” McLintock wrote.
Locked it a few hours ago, they mean? That’s funny considering that I was told Tuesday night that an arthouse exhibition chain had booked Letters into some of their theatres at least a day or two earlier, perhaps as early as last Friday.
Can we cut the crap? If Warner Bros. had had any real respect for Eastwood’s decision to make two Iwo Jima films, they would have decided from the get-go to follow the Japanese release plan and open it in December so people could fully appreciate it as a Flags companion piece. But WB execs pushed it off into a February 9th release anyway, for reasons best not shared.
Warner Bros. sources will never admit it, but the only reason Letters was suddenly advanced into December is because everyone got scared over the last week or two and said to each other, “We’re in trouble! The bandwagon is slowing down! The Oscar plan is falling apart! We need to throw a Hail Mary pass!” The concern kicked in because Flags of Our Fathers is losing theatres and is withering on the box-office vine, as well as in the court of industry opinion, and so they figured, “What the hell, let’s release Letters and see what happens! Can’t hurt at this stage!…why not?”