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Shia LaBeouf-Tom Hardy drama 'Wettest' delayed to August

January 5, 2012 |  3:14 pm

If you were waiting to see Shia LaBeouf get serious, you’ll have to wait a little longer.

The Weinstein Co. has pushed “Wettest County,” a drama about Depression-era bootleggers that features the “Transformers” star in a lead role, from its scheduled April 20 release date to Aug. 31.  The move puts the film, which at one point had been considered a candidate for the 2011 award season, into a Labor Day weekend slot that is regarded by some distribution experts as a film-release black hole.

A Weinstein spokeswoman declined to comment on the move.

[Updated, 3:40 p.m. Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser told 24 Frames that "The film wasn't ready [for April] and we believe we've found a really great date when a lot of movies have done really good business." Glasser noted the August release of "Inglourious Basterds" in 2009; that film came out two weeks before Labor Day.]

John Hillcoat (“The Road”) directed "Wettest," which features a who’s-who of emerging stars, including Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain, as well as a re-emerging one, Gary Oldman. The film centers on a group of bootlegging brothers (including characters played by LaBeouf and Hardy) who must fight to protect their turf. According to one person who’s seen it, the film features some violent action moments amid its dramatic elements.

The movie, which the Weinstein Co. acquired at last year's Cannes Film Festival, is one of the first films to be financed by Annapurna Productions, the company founded by Megan Ellison that has been spending aggressively on prestige pictures. It's of particular interest because of the LaBeouf factor.

Known mainly for thrillers and action vehicles, the actor has recently been hoping to turbocharge his dramatic career. He starred in the financial-crisis sequel "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" in 2010 and over the past few months has also been shooting the Robert Redford-directed “The Company You Keep,” about the relationship between a journalist and a member of the Weather Underground.

The Weinstein Co. initially contemplated bringing "Wettest" at the end of 2011 and positioning it for an awards run but eventually decided on a spring date. The company had a crowded end-of-year release calendar that included “The Artist,” “My Week With Marilyn” and “The Iron Lady.” (Hillcoat’s “The Road,” also distributed by Weinstein, itself faced delays before finally coming out in November 2009.)

The new date means "Wettest" won't compete with the generally lighter spring fare—“Scary Movie 5” is scheduled to open the same April weekend. But the current slot is not generally seen as an auspicious time for serious films: last year, for instance, Labor Day weekend saw genre fare like "Shark Night 3D" and the company’s own "Apollo 18." The one higher-end film to come out that weekend, "The Debt," did modest business.

So far, the 2012  Labor Day weekend is occupied by "7500," a low-budget supernatural thriller.
--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Tom Hardy in "Wettest County." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

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