On Thursday, the Weinstein Co. pushed the release date of “Wettest County,” the Depression-era drama starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy as bootlegging brothers, from April 20 to Labor Day weekend.
Today Harvey Weinstein offered an explanation for the postponement, citing a media strategy that aims to capitalize on the post-“Dark Knight Rises” appeal of Hardy as well as a release template followed by other action-tinged dramas.
“We have a star in Tom Hardy who’s completely anonymous right now. If you go to a line at the ArcLight nobody would know who he is,” Weinstein told 24 Frames. But the film executive said that would change with the release of Hardy’s Batman picture (Hardy plays the villain, Bane) in July. “He’s going to be a huge movie star by August,” Weinstein said.
John Hillcoat directed “County,” which the musician-screenwriter Nick Cave adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novel. It concerns a family in rural Virginia that lives on the edge of the law and finds itself under violent pressure from authorities who want in on the action. The movie will now hit U.S. theaters on Aug. 31.
Weinstein, who said he believed performances from Hardy and LaBeouf would attract awards attention, also said that the new date would allow the film to play at at least one major international festival.
“The idea is to go to Venice and then hit the domestic market right after,” he said. It was a tack Weinstein said was taken by “The Constant Gardener,” Fenrando Mereilles' 2005 John le Carre adaptation; the movie, released by Focus Features in late summer, went on to gross $33 million domestically and $48 million internationally.
Labor Day is typically considered a very slow weekend in U.S. moviegoing, but Weinstein noted that “it can be a great bridge between the summer and the fall. And we wanted the holiday weekend for the movie, especially down South, where there’s a big audience for this film.”
While a movie’s period setting usually dictates a limited release, Weinstein said he saw “Wettest County” as a wide play and planned on opening it in several thousand theaters.
“Wettest” will kick off a packed fall season for the Weinstein Co. The company in recent years has been stocking up at festivals for its fall slate (its 2011 best-picture contender, “The Artist,” was acquired just ahead of last year’s Cannes Film Festival). But next fall is already crowded, with Brad Pitt-starring mob tale “Cogan’s Trade,” the David O. Russell family reconciliation story “The Silver Linings Playbook,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s so-called Scientology movie “The Master,” and Quentin Tarantino’s slave picture “Django Unchained" all likely to come out in the fourth quarter.
Photo: Tom Hardy in "Wettest County." Credit: The Weinstein Co.