Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” is ready for the 2018-19 awards season. Warner Bros. has confirmed the drama will open December 14, 2018. The December release is Eastwood’s first since “American Sniper,” which Warner Bros. debuted during Christmas 2014. Since that release, which earned six Oscar nominations, Eastwood has gone on to direct to “Sully” and “The 15:17 to Paris.” The latter titled opened in theaters in February.
“The Mule” stars Eastwood as Earl Stone, an 80-year-old who becomes a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. The story is based on the real life of World War II veteran Leo Sharp. The role is Eastwood’s first acting gig since starring in 2012’s “Trouble in the Curve”and it’s his first lead role since 2008’s “Grand Torino.” The supporting cast includes Bradley Cooper, Dianne Wiest, and Michael Peña.
The decision to release “The Mule” this December is a surprise given that Warner Bros. already has one major Oscar contender in “A Star Is Born,” which happens to be directed by and star “Mule” supporting actor Cooper. According to Variety, “The Mule” is being viewed by the studio more as a commercial Christmas release than a major Oscar contender, which makes sense given the fact “A Star Is Born” is being pushed hard. IndieWire’s awards editor Anne Thompson wrote at TIFF that “Star” is set to break into at least nine categories, including best picture and best director. Regardless, it’s hard to count out Eastwood from awards consideration, especially since “The Mule” could be his final acting role.
“If the movie is done in time, Eastwood could go up against another retiring octogenarian in the Best Actor race: Robert Redford, who plays an unrepentant bank robber in ‘The Old Man & the Gun,'” Thompson wrote when assessing this year’s potential late-breaking titles. Now we know for sure the film is done.
“The Mule” will open against “Mortal Engines,” “Second Act,” and “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.”