When Sony announced Tuesday it was pushing back the release date until 2014, speculation about production trouble – Brad Pitt "World War Z" style – arose just as quickly. Thursday, a Feb. 7, 2014 release date was put on the books, so now the studio can look forward to finishing the film and ginning up buzz. But not without an interception by George Clooney to quiet some of the rumors.
The Los Angeles Times, the first to report the news, said that the film's visual effects were causing the delay. "If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy," Clooney, star and director of the film, told the Times.
The online conversation immediately went to what the date change meant for the Oscar race, as the delay removed "The Monuments Men" out of consideration. As the Los Angeles Times noted, the film was one of a number of November and December slated films that had dropped out at the last minute, including "Wolf of Wall Street" (which now looks like it will be able to squeeze in just under the wire, pegged for a Christmas Day release), "The Immigrant," and "Grace of Monaco." The Hollywood Reporter looked at the trend and saw an already packed race scaring away film execs. Meanwhile, Huffington Post looked at the films the departure of "The Monuments Men" benefited.
For what it's worth, Clooney told the Los Angeles Times that Academy attention was never his top priority with the film, the first he is directing since 2011's "Ides of March." However, with Oscar-worthy films just now beginning to hit the screens, those industry watchers not lucky enough to attend the fall film festivals where many are first previewed, release dates and pep rallies masquerading as awards galas are the easiest signs for what will compete.
However that wasn't the only speculation being raised with the release date change. The Wrap pointed to an interview with Clooney in which he called setting the tone of the film "a dance," suggesting that was the problem at hand. Clooney called up Deadline, likely familiar with their long held rivalry, to quash the rumors, reiterating again that pesky CGI issues – not its overall quality – were delaying the film.
Coming out in February, "The Monuments Men" will face far less competition, but also generally lower theater attendance. Last February's Box Office was "abysmal" as Box Office Mojo put it, with only "Identify Thief" grazing the $100 million mark. Nevertheless, Clooney said he sees his film's February opening playing like 2010's "Shutter Island," which went on to make nearly $300 million worldwide. And all the speculation along the way? It certainly didn't hurt "World War Z," which has taken in a half a billion dollars.