Last Friday it was announced that Fox Searchlight Pictures would be releasing Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock on November 23 of this year, making it eligible for this year’s Awards race. The highly anticipated biopic follows the relationship between the legendary director and his wife, Alma Reville, during the production of the movie Psycho. Sir Anthony Hopkins stars as the titular auteur with Helen Mirren starring as his wife. Supporting actors include Scarlett Johanssen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jessica Biel, Toni Collette, James D’Arcy, Ralph Macchio, and Danny Huston.
The way I see it there are two probable reasons for Fox Searchlight’s decision to move Hitchcock to 2012:
Keep up with the zeitgeist. The Hitchcock Masterpiece Blu-Ray Collection is set to be released on October 30th and the HBO Film The Girl is set to air on October 20th. Those two events combined with the recent Sight & Sound Poll that named Hitchcock’s Vertigo the number one movie of all-time makes this feel like the biggest year for the master of suspense since his death in 1980. If Fox Searchlight were to wait until the Fall/Winter of 2013 to release the movie, they might miss out on the Hitchcock “frenzy.”
Hitchcock is the studio’s hope for the 2012 Oscar race. Fox Searchlight Pictures is like The Weinstein Company in that they usually try and have multiple horses in the Best Picture race. Last year their films The Tree of Life and The Descendants both received nominations. The year before they had both Black Swan and 127 Hours. See a pattern? This year there film Beasts of the Southern Wild has already received positive reviews and had a good Box Office performance so it seems like safe bet to be one of the 6-10 eventual nominees. What other cards do they have?
The other 2011 Fox Searchlight Pictures releases of merit in 2011 have included The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Sessions. Both films have been well-received, but they seem more likely to earn nominations in the acting races than for Best Picture or Best Director. Hitchcock seems like slam dunk acting nomination for Anthony Hopkins and a good opportunity for his many co-stars, depending on how much pathos is integrated into their impersonations. Hitchcock might have an additional advantage in the major categories because it is a movie about the movies. The Artist and Hugo proved last year that the Academy loves nostalgia and the many screen icons that will appear in Hitchcock, should offer plenty of that.
Another reason why I suspect that Hitchcock might have been moved to this year is because Fox Searchlight senses weakness in the one or more of the many Fall/Winter releases that have yet to be seen. They might have some inside information that a movie like Flight, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Inside Llewyn Davis, or Promised Land is not what people were expecting and will either be not very good or not to the Academy’s taste. I predict that they might be trying to fill the spot of the movie being released by their sister company Fox 2000, Life of Pi. There is a lot of hype for Ang Lee’s upcoming adaptation of the Yann Martel novel and many experts have it listed as a Best Picture frontrunner. However, Fox 2000 has not had a Best Picture nominee since The Thin Red Line in 1999 and their recent releases have had more success commercially than with awards groups. Searchlight, the independent arm of Fox, is where the studio funnels their Oscar players and I suspect that since Hitchcock has been given the same opening weekend as Life of Pi, the studio has awards hopes for one and Box Office hopes for the other.
I could be completely wrong on this hypothesis, but one thing that I am quite sure about is that the Oscar race played at least some factor in the decision to move the release date. If it was a movie only meant to appeal to Hitchcock lovers, it would have been saved for a much less crowded March or April 2013 release.
This week’s Oscar predictions have been updated to reflect the Hitchcock shake-up. Click to see the exact races where I suspect Hitchcock will have an impact.
What impact do YOU think Hitchcock will have on the 2013 Oscar race?