George Clooney's much-hyped second world war thriller The Monuments Men has surprised Hollywood by abruptly cancelling its planned pre-Christmas release and moving it to an as-yet-unspecified date in the first quarter of 2014.
Apart from derailing studio Sony's already heavyweight marketing strategy, it effectively pulls the movie out of Oscar consideration, for which it was considered a strong contender.
The Monuments Men is about an Allied military unit charged with rescuing works of art from the Nazis during the second world war, and is Clooney's fifth directorial project in an increasingly impressive directing career. Clooney himself stars, alongside Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin.
According the Los Angeles Times, Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov realised they would not be able to complete the copious visual effects shots to make the 18 December release date. Clooney told the paper: "We just didn't have enough time... If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy. We simply don't have enough people to work enough hours to finish it."
Clooney's film joins a growing list of projects whose initial release dates are now being moved back as the race for Oscar nomination plays havoc with postproduction schedules. Wrestling drama Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, has had its 20 December release put off; Grace of Monaco has been moved to March 2014 while re-edits are completed, while James Gray's The Immigrant is no nearer a confirmed US release after a poorly-received premiere at the 2013 Cannes film festival. The Martin Scorsese-directed Wolf of Wall Street is still on course for Oscar consideration, despite its release date being pushed back a month from 15 November.
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