Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ Gets an IFC Summer Release; Will That Hurt Its Oscar Chances?

Linklater's 'Boyhood' Gets an IFC Summer Release; Will That Hurt Its Oscar Chances?
Linklater's 'Boyhood' Gets IFC Summer Release; Will That Hurt Its Oscar Chances?

After some debate about how to release writer-director Richard Linklater’s fest hit “Boyhood,” a unique chronicle of a boy’s life, the film’s backer IFC Films will open the film in stateside theaters on July 11. 

The film tracks Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from age six through his graduation from high school at age 18. His parents are played by Ethan Hawke (“Sunrise” trilogy) and Patricia Arquette, with Lorelei Linklater as his sister. Linklater filmed the story for two weeks every year for 12 years, from 2002 to 2013. IFC Films chief Jonathan Sehring greenlit the audacious project, and every year, footed the bill. 

After “Boyhood”‘s enthusiastic reception at the Sundance Film Festival, Linklater went on to win the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival. The film also played well at Austin resident Linklater’s hometown SXSW. There was some discussion of selling the film to another distributor, but financier IFC opted to release the film this summer, well ahead of the fall festivals. In retrospect one wonders–given how rapturously the film has been received– if holding “Boyhood” for Cannes might not have been a good move. 

The film has built some Oscar buzz. It is not a requirement for an awards contender to open during the fourth quarter–plenty of indies take the summer route. Last year Sony Pictures Classics’ “Before Midnight,” written and directed by Linklater in collaboration with actor-writers Hawke and Julie Delpy, premiered at Sundance, played Berlin, opened May 24 and earned an adapted screenplay Oscar nomination. 

SPC debuted Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” in Cannes followed by a May 20th release; they kept the movie in theaters through Oscar season and scored multiple Oscar nominations. SPC and Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” opened July 26 and earned Cate Blanchett a Best Actress Oscar. Fox Searchlight’s 2012’s Sundance debut “Beasts of the Southern Wild” skipped Berlin in favor of Cannes, opened June 27 and went all the way to Best Picture, Director, Actress and Screenplay nominations. Weinstein Co’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” on the other hand, went out on August 16 and scored $116 million domestic but wound up with zip on Oscar nominations morning.

Linklater produced “Boyhood” with Cathleen Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring and John Sloss.

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