‘Gatsby’ release rescheduled for summer 2013

Well, that’s disheartening. Every Oscar season has its share of prestige dropouts, and this year’s first is a big one: Baz Luhrmann’s 3D adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” initially scheduled by Warner Bros. for a Christmas Day release, will now not reach theaters until next summer. (It’s the second high-profile title Warners have bumped to 2013, after the all-star “Gangster Squad” was relegated to the January doldrums.)

No precise reason has been given for the shift, with Warner distribution president Dan Fellman simply saying that they want “to ensure this unique film reaches the widest audience possible.” You can read that as you will. Perhaps they believe the film has genuinely strong commercial prospects and deserves art-blockbuster positioning. Perhaps, regardless of the film’s quality, they’re anticipating critical slingshots — some are inevitable, I’d say, given the scale and eccentricity of the project — and don’t want to subject it to the pressure of a prime awards-bait slot. Perhaps reshoots are on the cards and they simply need more time.

Whatever it is, I’m disappointed: sink or swim, “Gatsby” was easily the studio prestige picture to which I was most looking forward this year, and following that luridly lovely, faintly bonkers trailer, I was already getting impatient to see what Luhrmann has been dreaming up. (Hey, I remain an “Australia” apologist.)

The move, of course, doesn’t mean it couldn’t still be in Oscar player in 2013. Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” was released in May 2001 and hung in all the way to the Best Picture lineup — arguably benefiting from having enough time to overcome the divided reviews and take root as a cultural phenomenon. (“Rouge!” also got the luxury of a Cannes Film Festival berth — perhaps “Gatsby” could wrangle one?”)

“Australia,” meanwhile, opened in late November and was swiftly torpedoed. If Warners are sensing that “Gatsby” won’t be for everyone, perhaps they’re wise to get out of the firing line, particularly in a holiday season already overstuffed with high-end literary fare, from “Anna Karenina” to “Les Miserables” to Warner’s own “The Hobbit.”

That brings us to the question of what this vacancy means for Warner’s 2012 Oscar slate, which currently boasts “The Hobbit,” Ben Affleck’s “Argo” and Clint Eastwood’s return to the screen in “Trouble With the Curve” — as well as the known quantity of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Over-eager fans of the latter will inevitably cheer at any developments that seemingly give the Bat some more elbow/wing room, though it seems to me that this is particularly good news for “Argo,” a serious-minded, star-speckled drama from an ever-improving director that I’ve been thinking for some time could be the quiet one to watch in this race. 

Anyway, our Contenders charts will soon be adjusted accordingly. Here’s the full press release: 

Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures have moved the release date of “The Great Gatsby” to Summer 2013. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

In making the announcement, Fellman stated, “Based on what we’ve seen, Baz Luhrmann’s incredible work is all we anticipated and so much more. It truly brings Fitzgerald’s American classic to life in a completely immersive, visually stunning and exciting way. We think moviegoers of all ages are going to embrace it, and it makes sense to ensure this unique film reaches the largest audience possible.”

Kwan Vandenberg confirmed, “Baz is known for being innovative, but with this film he has done something completely unexpected–making it in 3D–while capturing the emotion, the intimacy, the power and the spectacle of the time. The responses we’ve had to some of the early sneak peeks have been phenomenal, and we think ‘The Great Gatsby’ will be the perfect summer movie around the world.”

From the uniquely imaginative mind of writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann comes the new big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. The filmmaker has created his own distinctive visual interpretation of the classic story, bringing the period to life in a way that has never been seen before, in a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role.

“The Great Gatsby” follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

Academy Award(R) nominee DiCaprio (“J. Edgar,” “Aviator”) plays Jay Gatsby, with Tobey Maguire starring as Nick Carraway; Oscar(R) nominee Carey Mulligan (“An Education”) and Joel Edgerton as Daisy and Tom Buchanan; Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke as Myrtle and George Wilson; and newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker. Indian film legend Amitabh Bachchan will play the role of Meyer Wolfsheim.

Oscar(R) nominee Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge!”) directs the film in 3D from a screenplay co-written with frequent collaborator Craig Pearce, based on Fitzgerald’s book. Luhrmann produces, along with Catherine Martin, Academy Award(R) winner Douglas Wick (“Gladiator”), Lucy Fisher and Catherine Knapman. The executive producers are Academy Award(R) winner Barrie M. Osborne (“Lord of the Rings – Return of the King”) and Bruce Berman.

Two-time Academy Award(R)-winning production and costume designer Catherine Martin (“Moulin Rouge!”) designs as well as produces. The editors are Matt Villa, Jason Ballantine and Jonathan Redmond, and the director of photography is Simon Duggan. The music is by Craig Armstrong.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, in association with A&E Television, a Bazmark/Red Wagon Entertainment Production, a Film by Baz Luhrmann, “The Great Gatsby.” Opening Summer 2013, the film will be distributed in IMAX(R) 3D, 3D and 2D by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.