Paramount Delays The Soloist and Defiance Until 2009
by Alex Billington
October 17, 2008
This just seems to be the year where big release are delayed last minute for odd reasons. First it was Harry Potter, then it was The Road, now it's The Soloist and Defiance, too! The Soloist has been pushed from its initial Thanksgiving opening on November 21st all the way to March 13th next year. Defiance has been pushed from its initial limited opening on December 12th to December 31st, in order to give it Oscar consideration, before eventually expanding wider on January 16th. Both of these films had a considerable amount of early buzz, with The Soloist being the strongest given Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx were playing two emotional leads. Now both films are doomed to fail - at least in my opinion.
Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood tries to uncover reasons why Paramount made this decision to shift two major films. It seems that because Paramount recently lost DreamWorks and subsequently announced that they'll only release 20 major films every year, they've started shifting releases around so that they "don't have a giant hole next year." Other speculation is that Paramount wants to focus its Oscar efforts on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Revolutionary Road instead, "but it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the metrics of managing its numbers." Whatever the reasons may be, I think Paramount has seriously hurt the potential box office performance of both films.
Thanksgiving is always a big time to release major films, and I think The Soloist (watch the trailer) looked like it could draw big crowds. Now it won't even have Oscar consideration and is being dumped one week after Watchmen is going to take the world by storm. To me, that's a death sentence for what looked like a great movie. Defiance (watch the trailer), on the other hand, wasn't a film that I thought would do gangbusters at the box office, but they're putting it in the Children of Men slot, with a minimal limited released before opening it wide at the very start of Sundance. It seems like Paramount is doing nothing more than dumping two films that I thought were some of their strongest features left this year.