The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Put a fork in 'The Road'

Road "The Road," which has been the subject of incredible fascination in the blogosphere in recent weeks, is finally, officially, absolutely, definitely moving its release to 2009. The feature adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize- winning novel, which stars Viggo Mortensen, will have to wait another year for any possible Oscar plaudits. Dimension Films, which is releasing the picture, originally had the film scheduled for this November, but its filmmaking team has made it clear that the movie just isn't ready for release.

Its producers, 2929 Productions chief Marc Butan and producer Nick Wechsler, said today that "we know the release of 'The Road' is eagerly anticipated by millions of fans who love the book as well as many others. The film simply won't be ready in time to release in 2008. Depicting McCarthy's post-apocalyptic tale involves an incredible amount of visual effects and we want to make sure to give this beautiful movie the time it needs to be perfected."

Apparently the producers have more clout with the Weinstein brothers than the filmmakers behind "The Reader," who also said their film wasn't ready for release but were bulldozed into agreeing to a late 2008 release date, prompting producer Scott Rudin to quit the film in protest. The departure of "The Road" from 2008 further thins out the field of potential Oscar contenders, leaving "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" as the reigning early favorite for best picture glory.

Photo" Kodi Smit McPhee (left) and Viggo Mortensen in "The Road."  Credit: Macall Polay / Dimension Films.

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As much as I am a fan of the book, and as much as I was eagerly awaiting the release of the movie, I think the delay has more to do with the incredibly bad timing of releasing one of the darkest movies in ages (ever?) during the worst financial crisis to hit this country since the Great Depression.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to market such a movie in today's anxious, teeth-clenchingly nervous times? We're already threatened with teetering into a "hunter-gatherer economy" (thanks to Rachel Maddow for that one), the fear index is off the charts, an historic and potentially explosive election is a mere 12 days away...I can just see the marketing execs over at Dimension wringing their hands and without a clue how to touch this dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark tale!

Clearly, the decision to release "The Reader" before the end of the year but delay release of "The Road" is predicated upon potential box office, film content nonwithstanding, ahead of any Oscar potential. In this economic environment, the "Business" will trump the "Show" every day of the week.



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