Release dates always tell a story. Distributors make their initial best guess of the best placement for a movie, but the marketing team doesn’t know what they have until they see it. Focus Features, which is on a box-office roll with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, just moved two key fall pictures into new release dates.
Tellingly, Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased” (Anonymous Content) moves from September 28 into award-season primetime on November 2 (limited), while Mimi Leder’s “On the Basis of Sex” (Participant Media) moves back from November 9 to Christmas season on December 25 (limited).
This supports the advance buzz on these films. Word is that 21-year-old Lucas Hedges (who landed his first Oscar nomination in “Manchester by the Sea”) is superb in “Boy Erased” as a southern gay teenager forced into conversion therapy by his Baptist parents (Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman). Edgerton plays a conversion therapist. Expected to debut at the fall festivals, the movie will get a major awards push.
On the other hand, Focus is high on mainstream commercial prospects for the Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic starring Felicity Jones as the ground-breaking Supreme Court justice who is celebrating her 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court; arthouse crowds have already flocked to see the documentary “RBG,” which has crossed $10 million. Armie Hammer plays RBG’s husband Marty Ginsburg; Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, and Sam Waterston costar.
A Christmas opening increases the potential audiences for the film as it expands through the holiday season. Turning the movie into a hit will only improve the film’s best shot for a nomination: “The Theory of Everything” Oscar nominee Jones’ lead performance.
Not moving its date is Josie Rourke’s costume drama “Mary Queen of Scots” (December 7), starring Saoirse Ronan and her fellow 2018 Best Actress Oscar nominee Margot Robbie.