Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shuffled Island, Scorsese's Schedules

I neglected to mention the news of Shutter Island's shift to 2010 when it spread across the internet Friday (I swear, if you don't have your laptop grafted onto your body these days...). This shuffling happens to movies every year and everyone (including myself sometimes) acts surprised and put out as if it's never happened before. We have agreed to collective amnesia.

Dennis Lehane's 6th novel Mystic River was on screen two years after it
was published. His 7th, Shutter Island, is taking longer to crossover.

Generally speaking such schedule switcheroos prompt three distinct reactions each year
  1. The studio lacks confidence in the movie and/or the movie isn't any good (suggesting that good = Oscar which it doesn't but that's another story)
  2. This movie wasn't going to be AMPAS's cuppa anyway, no matter when it opened. Might be a good decision financially.
  3. Yay. Something that's not total garbage is going to open in the early months of the year!
Hollywood is Pavlov and we are the dogs. Each of these groupthink reflexes has been carefully conditioned in us. They've trained us to expect junk in the first quarter, blockbusters and counterprogrammers in the second and third, prestige films in the final. Anything that appears to be in its wrong season -- as if there should be wrong seasons for things as wonderful as movies -- is immediately suspect whether it be an f/x epic, a romantic comedy, or a film from a major auteur.

--> Scorsese at Cannes with his genius editor Thelma Schoonmaker in Cannes in May to celebrate The Red Shoes (directed by Thelma's late husband Michael Powell). Thelma & Marty have made 16 narrative features together, plus documentaries and shorts.

The truth about Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island could lie anywhere. I'm leaning towards #2. I was anxious to see this hallucinatory potboiler, too, but think of the bright side: We've got more time to read the novel before the movie arrives on February 19th, 2010.

And finally, it's worth noting: Scorsese isn't exactly speedy. Who knows what's happening in Post. If the film is complete that doesn't mean he won't decide to tinker. Didn't Gangs of New York even appear in winter magazine previews for 2001 before being pushed back 12 months for December '02? We're always talking about release dates when it comes to Oscar... but what of release dates when it comes to filmmakers? Is there any consistency with Scorsese? Let's look at his 20 narrative features, release dates and Oscar's reaction (Best Picture nominees are in red).
  • The Departed | Oct 6th, 2006 | 5 noms, 4 wins
  • The Aviator | Dec 17th, 2004 | 11 noms, 5 wins
  • Gangs of New York | Dec 20th, 2002 | 10 nominations
  • Bringing Out the Dead | Oct 22nd, 1999 | ignored
  • Kundun | Dec 25th, 1997 | 4 nominations
  • Casino | Nov 22nd, 1995 | 1 nomination
  • The Age of Innocence | Sept 17th, 1993 | 5 noms, 1 win
  • Cape Fear | Nov 13th, 1991 | 2 nominations
  • Goodfellas | Sept 19th, 1990 | 6 noms, 1 win
  • The Last Temptation of Christ | Aug 12th, 1988 | 1 nomination
  • The Color of Money | Oct 17th, 1986 | 4 noms, 1 win
  • After Hours | Sept 13th, 1985 | ignored
  • The King of Comedy | Feb 18th, 1983 | ignored
  • Raging Bull | Dec 19th, 1980 | 8 noms, 2 wins
  • New York, New York | June 21st, 1977 | ignored
  • Taxi Driver | Feb 8th, 1976 | 4 nominations
  • Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore | Dec 9th, 1974 | 3 noms, 1 win
  • Mean Streets | Oct 14th, 1973 | ignored
  • Boxcar Bertha | June 14th, 1972 | ignored
  • Who's That Knocking At My Door? | Sept 8th, 1968 | ignored

Yep, he's an "Autumn" all right... though you can see how much more fluid Hollywood once was with prestige movie scheduling the further back in time you go. His only previous February openings, The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, happen to be my two favorites, no fooling. Does this mean I should be very very very excited for Shutter Island or should I stop being so superstitious about release dates?

How is the move to 2010 sitting with you? Or are you eternally impatient when it comes to Oscar season? I'm guessing you're ready to get the party started. I know I am.


James Colon said...

Yeah, I had no idea that this had gotten pushed back. Guess I'm out of the loop. I'm leaning more toward the "yay! Good movies before September!" feeling, myself. This is seemed incredibly un-Oscar-y anyway...

Unknown said...

Uhm... just wanted to note that in that fancy little graphic of yours it says Feb 2009 and not Feb 2010... :-)

I am still looking forward to this one, regardless of its release date, but not I am thinking of maybe reading the book first.

Unknown said...

the second "not" should have been a "now", my mistake


asokan oopsie. way to shoot myself in the foot. it's corrected now.

and i'm thinking i'll read the book too, since i just finished "Perdido Street Station" which took me FOREVER to read. (sigh)

gabrieloak said...

Unfortunately when this news broke on the internet, a bunch of posters indicated that the story has a twist at the end. I didn't know that and wonder if I should read the novel. And without reading the novel I can already guess what the twist is.

But even so, I think the movie could be a lot of fun, with Scorsese paying tribute to old movies in the thriller/noir genre, which producer Brad Gray at Paramount would probably not care about.

Ms.Berkowitz said...

I have a feeling this movie is gonna be bad. Or atleast a dissapointment in some way, I just feel it.

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosengje said...

I'm annoyed mostly because I just devoured the book in like a day last week. I had been wading through "Pictures at a Revolution" and "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" and needed a palette cleanser. Very pulpy and enjoyable. Definitely not traditional Oscar material, so the release date might help it gain footing away from awards talk.

Andrew K. said...

It's not that surprising that they're pushing this back now that I think about it. I think that Paramount just wants to keep the rabid Scorsese fans [me] on their toes and build even MORE buzz for this movie...Oscar or no Oscar...and why is that every movie Scorsese has people doubting it's qualities and then it comes out and its [usually] good...?

I'm still pretty pissed off though. I was already getting tired of waiting. If they postpone Nine or Avatar I will do something very rash!

And Nathaniel, yes, you should stop being so superstitious about release date.

James Hansen said...

This is interesting to think about, but it goes to show how bigger Oscar movies come out late. What would be interesting to see, in terms of release dates, is a spread on dramas versus comedies versus horror and whatnot. There's likely a pattern there with lots comedies in spring and summer (cheery, happy time), and drama during autumn and winter (dark, dreary, sad, lonesome time). The time movies come out will often match the look and feel of the movie. Strange but true. Or am I wrong?

ThaDropDownBear said...

I don't really care about the movie's Oscar potential = [ I just love his films, I'm very sad that its been delayed.

Wayne B said...

Wow, you leave town for two days and everything's so different when you get back. Well now I'll have to update my own predictions. I totally expected the film and Marty to be among the announcements in January. Oh well, at least there'll be a decent film opening in the first two months of next year now. :)

Henry said...

That's not great news. I would have liked an autumn release date. But it does give me time to read the book.

Unknown said...

Scorsese's The Age of Innocence was supposed to come come out in 1992.
Last year The Road was postponed by a year. It does happen every year.

Styx said...

I thought that this one was going to be a big Oscar player. Not necessarily b/c of the material, but b/c of the Scorsese/DiCaprio/Lehane brand. Voters aren't going to have long memories and be thinking about this film in Dec. 2010-Feb. 2011. That's pretty much done. This isn't "The Silence of the Lambs" era. It might be financially sound to move it and not spend huge dollars on a campaign, and I'll applaud seeing adult films in the winter doldrums. But I wanted this to be Marty's big Oscars follow-up to "The Departed", and he's one of the only directors out that there that could have pulled that off in the Academy with a genre piece. But I know the Oscars aren't the be all end all of film quality, so whatever. Hope the film's a winner regardless.

Mr Y said...

Anyone think it may have been the result of the very long trailer giving everything away about the movie? I read the book so I know what happens, but was shocked to see how much of the story they let out in that trailer. Wondering if they have to re-tool the film now that everyone knows what happens.


well unfortunately, box office statistics and marketing research tend to say "spoil the movie!" when it comes to trailers.

not sure why people need that before they decide to see a movie but they seem to. Is it the same impulse from reality television where the structure is

tell me what's going to happen next
show me what happens next
tell me what just happened
tell me what you thought about what just happened

and start again...
tell me what's going to happen next