We’ll be getting into refreshing our Oscar contenders and predictions and whatnot in a few weeks, we promise. It’s nice to just leave it alone while, you know, we remain in the dark on what most of the season has to offer. But moves are being made here and there as studios start looking into the fall for prestige rollouts, and Universal has just made a bold move.
Peter Berg’s “Lone Survivor” tells the story of four Navy SEALS ambushed in an ill-fated covert mission to thwart a high0level Taliban operative. It’s apparently solid enough for the studio to position it in the thick of the awards hunt with a 12/27 qualifying release platformed out to other markets in January of 2014. After the disaster that was “Battleship,” Berg could sure use a bounce back.
Universal has Deadline carrying some water for them on this as Pete Hammond says he’s seen the film “in unfinished form” and — naturally — sings its praises. “Notwithstanding some of the most intense and realistic battle scenes in recent memory,” he writes, “it goes beyond the average war film in fleshing out real three-dimensional human beings caught up in the moral consequences of war, and in that way is more reminiscent of past Best Picture Oscar winners like ‘Platoon’ (1986) and Universal”s own ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978).”
The film also stars Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana and Taylor Kitsch. It’s based on the New York Times bestseller, “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10” by Marcus Luttrell (with Patrick Robinson). The author is portrayed by Wahlberg in the film.
Universal could use a little extra firepower in the season. It really only has Ron Howard’s “Rush” to play with at the moment.
The last December release to win the Best Picture Oscar was Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004. It’s certainly been difficult as of late to come out last and make a big impression, particularly when playing the qualifying run game. But a move like this will get it in the conversation and therefore help it out on the box office front in the otherwise dumping ground that is January.
More on the upcoming Oscar season in due time.