Thursday, September 18, 2014

Update: "Serena" Gets Moved to 2015

Jennifer Lawrence
Awhile back, I wrote about director Susanne Bier's Serena starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. For the most part, I was enthusiastic about the trailer and was interested to see when the film would be released. In a rather unfortunate note, a film with high caliber of a cast will not be making the awards circuit, thus making it the first time since 2011 that a Cooper/Lawrence vehicle didn't open in time for Oscar consideration. In today's age, this is baffling, considering that these two are almost always guaranteed draws around awards season and are batting two-for-two nominations with their collaborations. So why move the film back to 2015? It isn't for reshoots or anything that could enhance the film. It apparently is just lackluster.

To make sense of this fiasco, there is a need for a little history. The film was completed in 2012 back before Lawrence broke big with The Hunger Games franchise and before the first Cooper/Lawrence team-up Silver Linings Playbook became an Oscar darling. The production company, 2929 Productions, shelved it. Two years later, their license was running out and they eagerly looked for new distributors. None accepted and soon it went to 2929's head company Magnolia, who have decided to release it on VOD in February 2015 followed by a theatrical release in March 2015. 

This doesn't bode well for the film's Oscar chances. With the film outside of the 2014 consideration period, it would have to qualify for next year. Considering how unlikely it is based on recent trends that a film before September stands any chance, it is likely to fail during next year's awards season. In fact, the once prominently anticipated The Monuments Men was moved from its December release to work on special effects. The film has since lost any and all conversation on top of being simply okay. That's the issue with the burial ground that is the time right after Oscar nominations are announced. Your film will be lost to discussion of the Oscar nominees for that year so much that nobody will care that there may be a strong contender for next year. Great or awful, Serena is going to fall into that camp.

Even then, a two year wait is sort of baffling considering that level of cast. It isn't far fetched that a film can be held back and still hold Oscar chances. Foxcatcher was initially a 2013 release before being shelved for production reasons. It won awards at Cannes and has quickly become the front runner for next year's ceremony. Even then, the film was canned until the following Fall when the conversation would be strong. It is a strategy that reaches its best chances at nominations. Serena isn't going to get it, even if the caliber suggests otherwise. Also, the film isn't even being held back for production reasons, thus giving it more understanding that it could just be awful.

Of course, the film falling to default distributor doesn't help. The film screened three times for distributors and no payoff came. In fact, there were quotes such as "The film was so edited, it made no sense" and "Uneven, especially Lawrence's [descent into madness]." This all seems unfortunate, but it looks like while Serena will finally see the light of day and appeal to the Cooper/Lawrence crowd, it won't be in the discussions for the Oscar ceremony. It is bowing out now, which feels unfortunate. It will be around, so make sure to check it out if you're interested. Otherwise, it will be interesting to know that Lawrence and Cooper will not be standing any chances at a three-peat at the Oscars.

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