Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or-winning drama “Amour” will open in theaters in New York and Los Angeles December 19. Distributor Sony Pictures Classics, which acquired the film mid-April before its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, is queuing up a late-year awards run.
The December 19 date puts the specialty film in competition with Sony’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” the hunt-for-Osama-bin-Laden picture directed by Kathryn Bigelow. And in the week afterward, more than a half-dozen high-profile films will hit theaters, including Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” Judd Apatow’s “This Is Forty” and Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby.” But true specialty releases are few during that window, which should give “Amour” time and space to pull in older audiences through into the new year.
"'Amour' is one of those masterworks that deserves awards consideration," says SPC co-president Michael Barker. "But even more importantly, there is a substantial audience during the month of December looking for alternatives to mainstream movie fare."
Haneke’s latest concerns a couple in their eighties who are forced to confront the limits of love and death when the wife’s health starts to decline. Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert star in the film, which drew fairly universal acclaim in Cannes.
SPC’s track record with scoring Oscar nominations for actors, directors, writers and foreign-language films is among the best, with “In Darkness,” “In a Better World,” “A Separation,” “Incendies,” “Midnight in Paris” and “Animal Kingdom” all fielding awards interest in recent years. The company released Haneke’s “Cache” in 2005 and “The White Ribbon” in 2009; the latter also won the Palme d’Or and was nominated for two Oscars.
SPC has no other films slotted for the fall at the moment, though it has a clutch of festival pick-ups it has yet to schedule, including Sundance 2012 acquisitions “West of Memphis” and “Smashed” and Cannes selections “Rust & Bone” and “No.”