A slight update on the release date front via Warner Bros. The studio has decided to move up its period, L.A. noir drama, “The Gangster Squad,” one week from October 19th to October 12th. A minor adjustment perhaps, but worth noting: the picture has likely moved to avoid going face to face with Paramount‘s unrivaled found-footage horror flick, “Paranormal Activity 4.” While the films cater to two distinctly different fans (drama vs. horror), “Paranormal Activity 3” was the biggest film in the franchise’s history thus far, grossing $205 million worldwide, so it’s likely WB hoped to avoid losing any of their audience.
Instead, in its new release frame, ‘Gangster Squad’ will face off against the Kevin James comedy “Here Comes the Boom” and the Jason Statham/Jennifer Lopez action crime flick “Parker” (there’s also Josh Schwartz and Paramount’s comedy “Fun Size” but it isn’t a threat and don’t be surprised if it gets bumped off that date).
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, it’s a bit of a gear shift for the helmer who has previously been behind the cameras of two action comedies (“Zombieland” and “30 Minutes Or Less“), but it’s the kind of creative left turn we’re always eager to see. Fleischer has action down cold, so it’ll be interesting to see what his take on drama will be. And then there are those that are asking: is this an Oscar film? And that’s debatable as Oscar films tend to start either at the beginning or end of the fall season (September and late Nov./early December) and October tends to be a reprieve for genre fare (though “The Social Network” busted that conventional wisdom last year).
That said, it’s got a stellar cast that includes Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie, Emma Stone and Sean Penn, and obviously “L.A. Confidential” — a film this one could resemble — went on to become a big awards-season player in 1998 when it was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Set in Los Angeles in 1949, the film centers on infamous, ruthless and untouchable mob king Mickey Cohen (Penn) who ran L.A. during the ’40s thanks to the protection of the corrupt police and politicians who were under his thumb. But one secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart. Based on a favored Black List script by Will Beall, “The Gangster Squad” is a colorful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD’s efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time.
Will it be an entertaining genre excercise or will it be something more than that, perhaps penetrating the Oscar race in the same way “L.A. Confidential” did? We’ll see on October 12th, that is unless WB is bold enough to show it early during the fall film festival season.