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Denzel Washington’s ‘Fences’ Lands Oscar-Friendly December Dates

Paramount is ramping up a strong Oscar slate for 2016. Washington's adaptation of the Tony-winning August Wilson Broadway revival co-starring Viola Davis is a likely contender.


Viola Davis and Denzel Washington on “Fences” opening night.

Photo by Amanda Schwab/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

As expected, Paramount has booked the Denzel Washington film version of the Tony-winning 2010 revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama “Fences” for December 16 limited release in Los Angeles and New York, followed by a national expansion on December 25.

This marks Washington’s third outing as a director, following well-received indie dramas “Antwone Fisher” and “The Great Debaters.” He’s been in the Oscar derby six times as an actor, winning twice, for “Glory” and “Training Day.” And he headlines Antoine Fuqua’s western remake “The Magnificent Seven” this fall.

Produced by Scott Rudin, “Fences” tells the story of retired baseball player Troy Maxson (Tony-winner Washington), who is now a garbage man looking regretfully back on his past while tangling with his wife Rose (Tony-winner Viola Davis). Mykelti Williamson and Russell Hornsby also reprise their stage roles.

Washington wrapped the ’50s-era film in Pittsburgh in June, when Viola Davis tweeted: “It’s a wrap!! This is history! Thank you Denzel! Thank you August…. It’s time August! It’s time!”

This December release pattern is prime-time for Oscar season. Paramount marketing president Megan Colligan and her team shepherded “The Big Short” to five Oscar nominations including Best Picture and one Adapted Screenplay win last year, while “Selma” made it to Best Picture contention and a Best Song win the year before.

This year Paramount has a strong slate of potential contenders including Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival,” starring Oscar perennial Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, which is expected to turn up at fall film festivals, Bob Zemeckis’s “Allied,” starring Brad Pitt, Lizzy Caplan and Marion Cotillard, which will likely not play fests, and Martin Scorsese’s period Japanese drama “Silence,” starring Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, which is also expected to be completed before the end of the year.

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