Harvey Weinstein Confident in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY's Oscar Chances, Release Shift Due to Crowded Christmas Day

Following yesterday's confirmation that The Weinstein Company had shifted August: OSAGE COUNTY from its Christmas Day release, studio head Harvey Weinstein and producer George Clooney have shed some light on the decision.

The go-ahead to bump the film adaptation of Tracy Letts' Tony winning play came down to the crowded Christmas Day release schedule and making the most out of awards season, Weinstead told Deadline.

"When it comes to Oscars, I'll take bets on this movie, it's going to be a surprise and a sleeper, but it's gonna be there," Weinstein said.

The release date shift marks the second time the studio has decided to delay the film's opening day. In June, BWW reported that the original October release date had been postponed until Christmas Day as a result of the Oscars being pushed back to a March 2, 2014 air date due to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games.

'OSAGE COUNTY,' now set for New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 27 ahead of a Jan. 10, 2014 wide release, was previously poised to go up against a hefty slate of holiday films.

"There are like 13 wide releases this Christmas, it's the biggest probably ever and there are movies for everybody," Weinstein said. "This might be a crazy comparison, but our research showed with Gran Torino, also a dark comedy, and The Bucket List, they did fabulously well when they opened on that January date. This is an artistic movie, but it's a real crowd pleaser and we just wanted to get out of the way of the 13 movies that will be killing each other this Christmas. We feel it has strong Academy potential, it's a movie written by a Tony-winning actor, it's a tribute to actors and a seamless directing job. The Oscars are March 2, and this move could portend a long run for this film."

Weinstein, Clooney, and Letts are now working overtime to change the industry's perception of the film, after the mixed reviews emerged following its premiere at this year's Toronto Film Festival.

"I'm never again going to rush to play a movie festival anymore, until the movie is locked," Weinstein said. "We rushed to get a version of August: Osage County because we wanted the heat of Toronto. It wasn't finished and it has created a disconnect."

Since its initial premiere and ending change, Clooney said audiences have been more than satisfied.

"The first test we had [earlier this fall] was crazy off the charts, so we didn't do testing thinking, whatever the audience tells us we're going to lean on John to make changes," he said. "We were after the leanest version of a play that had to be condensed down, retaining the best parts but not becoming the play's greatest hits. I felt by Toronto we were getting to a good place, but it wasn't a finished film yet and that caused some of the reaction. [Our taking the initiative to speak] isn't just about where this takes the film coming into Oscar season. It's about lasting longer than an opening weekend on a film we are very proud of and which is the next natural extension for Tracy's play. We want to make sure this doesn't get lost. We're coming out in the middle of the most crowded time I think I've ever seen."

For Deadline's entire interview with Weinstein, Clooney, and Letts, click here.

Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulrooney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard and Misty Upham, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

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