Why did Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler (Open Road, 10.31), a noirish thriller about an enterprising freelance crime journalist (played by a gaunt Jake Gyllenhaal), change its opening date from 10.17 to 10.31? I ask because for most instinct-driven, under-educated types, a movie called Nightcrawler (which of course was the name of Alan Cumming‘s shape-shifting character in Bryan Singer‘s X2) opening on Halloween weekend (10.31 to 11.2) indicates something spooky or slithery. Remember what happened to William Friedkin‘s Sorcerer, which 90% of the audience assumed was about something supernatural? So why risk the confusion?

I’ll tell you why. David Ayer‘s Fury is why. Or…well, I suppose it’s really due to The Interview abandoning its 11.17 release for Christmas Day, which led to Fury filling that date and so on. You know what? It’s simpler just to blame Brad Pitt.

Nightcrawler was all set to open on 11.17 on 2000-plus screens and then Fury, a violent, visually striking, sure-to-be-heavily-promoted WWII film, pounced on Nightcrawler like a panther and said, “Look, sorry, man but you might be a cooler, more layered Gilroy film but you know that Pitt can kick Jake Gyllenhaal‘s ass with one hand tied behind his back, especially with Jake’s weight-loss appearance. Plus we have a big-dick budget and we’re bigger and more badass than you guys, at least as far as the young male adult audience is concerned and….well, obviously it’s a free country so you do what you want but we’re opening on 11.17. Life in the big city, man. Adapt or die.”

So the Nightcrawler guys sat down with Open Road execs to suss things out. They went through all the alternative dates and handicapped all of them. They quickly realized that every single remaining weekend contained “appalling” competition except for Halloween weekend, which was wide open. “No one else is going to bother us on Halloween weekend so fuck it, we went for it,” my source says. The first thing any new film wants is available “oxygen,” as he puts it, and Halloween weekend had plenty to spare.

Team Nightcrawler is not afraid of “the Halloween thing,” as he puts it. “The paradigm can be broken. We’re not gonna sell Nightcrawler with pumpkins.” On top of which “the film is dark,” he says, “but it’s not dissonant with Halloween. Plus we’re hoping we’re gonna come out of the Toronto Film Festival with some critical momentum.” Out of which the buzz will have nearly two months to build.

But the idiots with their shorts, flip-flops and toenail fungus don’t know from Toronto, I muttered to myself. All they know is that Nightcrawler is one of the X-Men. But I suppose that even this crowd will eventually realize that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in their philosophies. Maybe. If they’re paying any kind of attention to Twitter and shit.

Nightcrawler will have its big public TIFF debut on Friday, 9.5, the same night as the premiere of Vincent Melfi and Bill Murray‘s St. Vincent. Let’s hope their showtimes don’t conflict.