The Weinstein Co. is moving one of its would-be Oscar hopefuls, Bible epic “Mary Magdalene” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, out of the expensive awards season to focus on a less competitive spring release on March 30 timed to the Easter holiday.
It’s a fiscally responsible move — but an uncharacteristic one, as Harvey Weinstein has happily let Oscars define his business ever since “Shakespeare in Love” won best picture in 1997.
TWC has always been willing to make opportunistic changes, but taking Garth Davis’ follow-up to “Lion” out of the fall is a dramatic. It follows the company’s serial pushback of Alicia Vikander vehicle “Tulip Fever,” including many canceled press screenings, as well as a March 9, 2018 release slot for “The Untouchables” remake “The Upside,” starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart.
According to Harvey Weinstein, the reason for pulling “Mary Magdalene” out of the Oscar race is just a matter of time. “Garth, Iain, Emile, and Liz along with the rest of the team are working hard to finish the film,” said Harvey Weinstein, “and tell Mary Magdalene’s extraordinary story. Having Garth direct back-to-back films for us was always going to be a race against time, especially with the overwhelming success and his enormous dedication to ‘Lion.'”
“Lion” earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and scored $140 million worldwide, but like TWC’s “Carol” the year before, went home empty-handed. Full-blown awards campaigns costs millions.
Produced by See-Saw Films’ Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (“Lion,” “The King’s Speech”), bible story “Mary Magdalene” reunites Davis with “Lion” star Mara as Mary Magdalene, a woman searching for a new way of life. Phoenix is prophet Jesus of Nazareth, who brings his followers on a journey that leads to the capital city of Jerusalem. Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, “Mary Magdalene” also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim.
Moving from December 22 to November 24 is the last Weinstein Oscar hopeful standing, Alfonso Gomez‐Rejon’s biopic “The Current War.” Making its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon as warring electricity moguls Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse and an ensemble that includes Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult, Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton, and Matthew Macfadyen. Playwright Michael Mitnick wrote the screenplay.