When Lionsgate picked up the marital drama Rabbit Hole following its successful Toronto International Film Festival bow, the deal struck by the producers was that the studio had to get the movie out in time for Oscar consideration this year. All that means is they had to get it in theaters before December 31, but Oscar release dates are a tricky thing-- come out too early and you're forgotten by January, but come out too late and your drowned by all the other movies trying to be fresh in the Academy's mind.

December 17, which The Wrap reports Lionsgate has chosen as a release date, is more of a happy medium. It's just a limited release, meaning likely only viewers in New York and Los Angeles will have the chance to see it, but it sandwiches Rabbit Hole between the limited release of fellow Oscar contender The Fighter and the wide bow of the Coens' Western True Grit, which hits just before Christmas on December 22. They're planning a wider expansion for Rabbit Hole on January 14, meaning it'll be a respite for all the serious moviegoers who couldn't catch it in December and don't want to deal with all the other crap the studios put out that time of year.

I was a big fan of Rabbit Hole when I caught it in Toronto, and look forward to seeing Nicole Kidman and Dianne Wiest in the thick of Oscar competitions thanks to their well-tuned performances (Aaron Eckhart is more of a question mark for me-- he's good but not great). Lionsgate proved last year with Precious that they can execute an Oscar campaign with the best of them, so we'll see if they can take yet another one all the way to Best Picture.

And while they're at it, can they come up with some new publicity stills for this movie? I'm sick to death of that one shot of Kidman and Eckhart moping in dim lighting, not only because it's the only one we've had for months, but it also misrepresents the bracingly honest, and occasionally even funny, movie itself. I know it's hard to represent "gallows humor" with a single still, but Lionsgate, you've got some publicity gurus over there-- make 'em work!

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