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Buzz is growing fast and frenzied over Spike Jonze’s upcoming Her. Written and directed by the celebrated filmmaker, the film boasts a cast that includes a whopping eight Academy Award nominations between its leads, Rooney Mara (1), Joaquin Phoenix (3), Amy Adams (4)…and Scarlett Johansson. (Okay, so she has no Oscar nominations, but she does have four Golden Globe nods!) With such a sensational cast and brewing buzz, it’s little wonder that Warner Bros has decided to push the film’s release date for a stronger advantage during award season.
THR reports Her is being bumped from its original release date of November 20th to a limited release on December 18th, with a wide release on January 10th. Award season buffs will note this sort of schedule strategy is a common among dramas that hope to win the love of the Academy. Notably, last year Zero Dark Thirty utilized this method, opening in New York and Los Angeles on December 21st, making the Academy rules deadlines for eligible releases. Then, they opened wide on January 11th, hoping award buzz would boost the film’s box office. While the film was robbed of its shot at major awards—arguably because of an unfair scandal—it did prove a major hit, pulling in more than $95 million domestically, which is more than five times what director Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy-Award winning predecessor The Hurt Locker netted.
For Her, this date shift also means a change in competition. Instead off against the box office force that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is expected to be, this tender tale of unconventional love will initially open two days ahead of Anchorman: The Legend Continues, Saving Mr. Banks, and George Clooney’s award season contender The Monuments Men. Of course, in limited release it’s not really expected to compete there. It’s wide release competition is far less frightening at present, consisting of a horror-thriller called Jessabelle that lacks any major stars, and the wide release expansion of Peter Berg’s Battleship follow-up Lone Survivor. But judging from the trailer below, these features will likely have little first-wave audience crossover.
Beyond that, Her is riding a wave of good press between this compelling first trailer and news that the film will close out this year’s New York Film Festival, which is usually a slate stacked with exceptional cinema. While the concept of “man falls in love with computer” could come off as trite, Jonze’s reputation for delicately detailing the inner emotional lives of his characters—be it in Where The Wild Things Are, Being John Malkovich or Adaptation--gives me faith that Her will be a story about man and machine that is deeply humane. Look for our review when NYFF kicks off next month.