When Peter Berg‘s upcoming war drama “Lone Survivor” was recently given a January 10, 2014 release date, we have to admit, we immediately figured it to be another Mark Wahlberg, early winter programmer (see “Contraband” and “Broken City“) and we put it in the back of our minds. But now, it looks like we’ll have to sit up and pay a bit of attention as this could be mixing it up in the awards season race.
Universal has decided to give the movie a New York and Los Angeles run starting on December 27th, before it platforms out to other cities. So does this one have the goods? Well, it has a helluva cast with Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch and Eric Bana joining Wahlberg in the true story tale based on the 2005 incident that found Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and his team under attack from Taliban forces in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. The team was on a mission to kill a terrorist leader very close to Osama Bin Laden, and along the way they ran into three kids and an old man, who under the rules of engagement they could have killed. They let them go, and the team was suddenly under fire from 250 heavily armed Al Qaeda soldiers (they even brought down a rescue helicopter that came in to try and evacuate the SEAL team).
So perhaps it’s not surprising to hear that studio head Adam Fogelson told industry folks at CinemaCon that the the flick is “soulful, gritty, tough, emotional and, quite frankly, remarkable.” The picture joins Ron Howard‘s “Rush” as part of the studio’s Oscar slate this year, so one more to keep an eye on as the second half of the year heats up. From “Battleship” to Best Picture for Berg? We’ll see. [Deadline]