Film release scheduling tends to get tricky around the end of the year. Not only do studios have to weigh all the usual concerns, they also need to keep an eye on the December 31 cutoff date for Academy Award qualification, and so they devise strategies to work around it or use it to their benefit.

Lionsgate is giving Stand Up Guys an awards season push, moving its release date up to December for New York and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Sony is looking to take advantage of all-but-inevitable Oscar buzz for Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty by scaling back the wide release originally planned for the end of this year. Read more about both decisions after the jump.

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Under most circumstances, a movie about Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Alan Arkin indulging in an all-night bender complete with hard drugs, pretty girls, and grand theft auto would sound like a hoot. But along comes Hector Salamanca Mark Margolis to make it sad.

Fisher StevensStand Up Guys starts with Val’s (Pacino) release from prison after nearly three decades. He reconvenes with his old pals Doc (Walken) and Hirsch (Arkin) for a wild night on the town, and on the surface it seems their bond is as strong as ever. In truth, however, Doc is under strict orders to take Val out. As morning approaches, so does his moment of truth. Julianna Margulies also stars. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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The lone secret premiere of the 2011 Telluride Film Festival ended up being Ben Affleck‘s dramatic thriller Argo.

I’ve never understood the negativity regularly thrown at Ben Affleck. When given the right material, he’s delivered some great performances as an actor (Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love, Boiler Room, Hollywoodland…etc). And in recent years he’s made the transition and proven himself to be a great director (Gone Baby Gone, The Town). Argo is his third feature film and it’s his smartest yet.

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“This is the best bad idea we have, sir, by far.”

Here’s the trailer for Argo, Ben Affleck‘s third film as director. The film follows the efforts of an operation to rescue six diplomats hiding in Tehran during the Iranian revolution in 1979.  The trailer begins in serious political thriller mode before the real plan is revealed and it moves into an Oceans Eleven tone for a moment. But it swings back as the real importance of the mission becomes clear.

This trailer demonstrates that the material could really put Affleck to the test as he has to balance a tricky combination of tones and situations. But his cast is excellent:  Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Zeljko Ivanek, Richard Kind, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina, Michael Parks, Kerry BisheKyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, and Taylor Schilling. The footage looks great, and keeps this locked as one of our most anticipated movies of the year. Check out the trailer below. Read More »

The latest actor to join Christian Bale in Scott Cooper‘s Out of the Furnace is likely to be Zoe Saldana. She’s in early talks for the film that Cooper is rewriting (based on Brad Ingelsby‘s The Low Dweller script) and will direct as his follow-up to Crazy Heart.

Bale will be an ex-con who is determined to avenge the death of his younger brother after being released from prison. Various actors have been mentioned as possible choices for the brother (Casey Affleck, Garrett Hedlund, Taylor Kitsch and Channing Tatum) and Robert Duvall is nearly set to play the main character’s helpful uncle, while Viggo Mortensen could end up being the villain.

Out of the Furnace could shoot this spring if the cast comes together and Relativity gives it the final green light. As we’ve heard before, that green light will primarily be based on the finalization of a deal with Bale, which hasn’t yet happened. [Variety]

After the break, a film called The Occult signs Rufus Sewell and Anne Heche, and Julianna Margulies joines Al Pacino in the comedic action film Stand Up Guys. Read More »

Action flicks aren’t just for young stars anymore, as evidenced by the commercial success of films like The Expendables, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, and Live Free and Die Hard. But even by those standards, Stand Up Guys boasts a fairly advanced cast. Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin have signed on to star in the action-comedy, which was previously titled Old Timers. Fisher Stevens, who won a Best Documentary Oscar in 2010 for The Cove, is set to direct. More details after the jump.

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We first heard about Jill Sprecher‘s Thin Ice when Greg KinnearBilly Crudup, and Alan Arkin signed on to star almost two years ago, back when it was still titled The Convincer. But the film hasn’t drawn much attention since then; even after it premiered at last year’s Sundance, I don’t remember hearing much about it. After seeing this sharp new trailer, though, I’m happy to be reminded of its existence.

In what sort of looks like Fargo-lite without aping the Coen Bros. too closely, Kinnear plays Mickey, a down-on-his-luck insurance agent in Kenosha, Wisconson. He stumbles across an opportunity to make some shady money off of one of his customers (Arkin), who’s unaware of the true value of one of his possessions. Unfortunately, Mickey makes the mistake of involving an unpredictable ex-con (Crudup) in his exploits, and from there things quickly spin out of control. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Sharon Stone was a big deal in the ’90s thanks to Basic Instinct in 1992, but she’s got a lower profile lately. She’s been working very steadily, but it doesn’t feel that way. I can’t remember the last time I saw a memorable Stone performance. Probably either Broken Flowers (’05) or Alpha Dog (’06). Law & Order: SVU fans would probably point to her recurring role on that show. I don’t know if anyone would point to Basic Instinct 2 (’06) even though the image above makes her appearance in that one look like a different version of the X-Men’s Emma Frost.

She might get more attention playing the mother of a porn star. Stone is now set to play the mother of Linda Lovelace (possibly played by Amanda Seyfried) in Lovelace. That’s one of two Linda Lovelace films in development right now, and the one that will be directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Howl). Peter Sarsgaard is in talks to play Lovelace’s husband an accused pimp and abuser Chuck Traynor. Andy Bellin and W. Merritt Johnson scripted based on the book The Complete Linda Lovelace by Eric Danville. [AP]

(The other Linda Lovelace film is Matthew Wilder’s Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story.)

After the break, find casting info for an indie called Wild Oats, and Ezra Miller’s denial that he has anything to do with WB’s Akira. Read More »

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