Paramount preps Chris Rock’s ‘Top Five’ for December 2014 release

The moment Paramount Pictures plopped down a hefty chunk of change for Chris Rock's “Top Five” in Toronto, all eyes turned toward it as a potential awards player. After all, it was wildly loved out of the fest. One even wonders if it was a significant threat in the People's Choice Award situation up there. But the studio has a ton on its plate for the end of the year. Could it really take on another end-of-year opener? “Oh well,” they seem to be saying on Melrose. “Let's go for it.” A December release it shall be. Dec. 5, to be exact.

I know the gears are turning internally with things like “it's Chris Rock's 'Annie Hall'” being thrown about. That certainly makes it sound even more enticing that Greg Ellwood's rave from the festival already did. The acquisition left would-be distributors “heartbroken,” according to The Hollywood Reporter in an inside-the-wheeling-and-dealing piece today. So you have to imagine people saw awards potential as well as fiscal promise in the film.

Producer Scott Rudin surely had a big smile on his face when the $12.5 million deal came through. And now it gives him another player on the battlefield in addition to Fox Searchlight's “Grand Budapest Hotel” and WB's “Inherent Vice,” neither of which is guaranteed awards traction for various reasons.

Still, something may have to give with Paramount's latter year slate. “Men, Women & Children,” “Interstellar,” “The Gambler,” “Selma,” “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” and now “Top Five” are all set for release from October forward. They could easily shift something like “Hot Tub” to the spring to give them a little breathing room, as they've done with films like “Shutter Island” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” in the past.

We'll see what happens.