Roland Emmerich’s next film, Anonymous has been slated for a release next Friday for quite some time. And now that the release is upon us, despite months and millions spent on trailer marketing, Sony has decided not to give the film the wide release we we’ve all been expecting.

Deadline has it that the film, which stars Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave, will be released in a paltry 250 theaters, less than a tenth as many theaters as average first run films see. The decision comes from Sony execs who believe that the film may not see success in its opening weekend which would curse what early reviewers as well as the Sony execs are calling a great film. Instead, this smaller opening will allow people to see and love the film, then follow it up with strong reviews and word of mouth. Actually, this doesn’t sound like too bad an idea, as word of mouth is always the best form of marketing.

No specific reasoning is given as to why they feel like the film may flop if it opened wide, but we can speculate. One reason is almost certainly the controversy behind it all. Anonymous purports that William Shakespeare was not the author of his many works, instead they were penned by the nobleman Earl of Oxford. Whether this is true or not will likely forever be a mystery, but for some this would be like insisting that it wasn’t Jesus who was crucified. Shakespeare’s works are sacred to many, and this could deter viewers.

Another theory is that Roland Emmerich’s name alone would turn people away. His last film, 2012 made metric shit-tons of money, but was a critical failure on a pandemic scale and people could simply see his name and feel like they’re in for another two hours of schlock. The trailer will prove that this isn’t the case, but upon hearing groans from an otherwise interested crowd when the name “M. Night Shyamalan” appeared during the trailer for Devil, it stands to reason that a recognizably bad name can make all the difference.

Anonymous will almost definitely see a wide release in the coming months leading up to the holiday season, but for now we’ll have to wait until Sony feels like it’s generated enough buzz with the smaller opening. Keep your eyes open for screenings near you starting next Friday.

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