I would love if the entire marketing campaign were merely a brief series of mini-teasers, offering samples of the soundtrack and choice imagery but little in the way of concrete plot and story. It’s possible that the plot won’t be much more complicated than “struggling actress falls in love with struggling piano player in the City of Angels,” but I think we’re all showing up for the leads (Stone and Ryan Gosling in their third onscreen pairing) and the musical numbers.
The picture was supposed to open on July 15 of this year before it got moved to its current early December slot. Of note, it’s just one of a few year-end Lionsgate offerings that might find itself in the year-end awards race.
Intriguingly enough, they have two Mark Wahlberg-starring Peter Berg movies about true-life American tragedies debuting between September and December. Deepwater Horizon, about the BP oil spill of 2010, opens on Sept. 29 while Patriots Day, about the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers (which is a CBS Films/Lionsgate offering), opens Dec. 21. Both are just as likely to be sturdy studio programmers as awards bait, but we’ll see.
Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, American Pastoral, which co-stars Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning, look terrific, and I eagerly await the October release of said Phillip Roth adaptation. And they’ve got Mel Gibson’s much-anticipated Hacksaw Ridge, which stars Andrew Garfield as a pacifist who joins the second World War effort sans weaponry to save lives instead of taking them, opening in early November against Trolls and Doctor Strange.
And don’t forget Blair Witch and Boo!: A Madea Halloween. That’s a joke, I think, but don’t count out Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. Okay, that’s a joke too, but Deepwater Horizon, American Pastoral, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, and Patriots Day makes a hell of a year-end lineup.
I don’t know if these films will be good. I don’t know to what extent these films will be commercial hits. Like, for example, I don’t know if Deepwater Horizon being a (likely) success will help or hurt Patriots Day. But if Deepwater is good/does solid business, it will help to have that Patriots Day trailer attached to it. I don’t know how many of these films will make a dent a play for year-end glory, but it caught my eye.
For a studio that isn’t necessarily known as an awards powerhouse (Crash and periodic offerings like Away From Her and The Impossible notwithstanding), they are offering a rather potent year-end lineup. I would even argue that they have the largest batch of would-be end-of-year awards contenders of any other studio this year.
And since I always talk about what kind of studio Lionsgate should be in the aftermath of The Hunger Games and Twilight, well, they could do worse than be that mini-major that drops a bunch of so-called “prestige” pictures at the end of the year right alongside the smaller companies like A24.
Now, to be fair, you can argue that one awards contender that clicks is worth more than a bunch that don’t.We’ll see if La La Land is the Lionsgate year-ender that clicks when it debuts on Aug. 31 at the Venice Film Festival. The film opens in limited release on Dec. 2 before expanding wide on Dec. 16. As always, we’ll see.