It really looks like Roland Emmerich is ready to shock people, if the early reviews for Anonymous are any indication. The blower-upper of national landmarks, the allusion-to-10,000 B.C.-which-I-didn’t-see, and the flooder of monks has apparently taken his period costume drama very seriously, and the half dozen early reviews out there (from publications like Variety and Hollywood Reporter) are all quiet positive. There’s very much a “this movie doesn’t suck, making it clearly Emmerich’s best film” vibe around the whole thing, and I’ve only seen a few negative tweets so far that would toss any cold water on it.
Now, in what at first glance seems like an oddly sudden move that lacks confidence, Sony has yanked the wide release opening of the film and rejiggered it as a platform release. Deadline, who reported the news, provides one executive’s justification that indicates they believe the film is great, and worth more than a “soft opening as a wide release” that would “doom” the film.
There’s inherently an element of hedging one’s bets with a platform release, as if/when the film doesn’t perform and is costing more than it’s earning you can just quietly kill it. The advantage here though, is that by making Anonymous a platformer they can build buzz and word-of-mouth steadily without directly competing with jam-packed release weekends through the rest of the year. Instead of a come-and-go release on a relatively small amount of screens (something considered “wide” but not nearly enough to grab attention), they’ve shifted the expectations and the potential. There’s also the value-added perception of smaller, growing releases as grassroots awards contenders– I can’t imagine Sony doesn’t have that in the back of their minds.
Lest you think this is all a face-saving attempt to dump the film, consider how many movies you were surprised or disappointed by this year when they simply came and went with barely a word. I’ve seen too many great little movies like Warrior come and go faster than Ace Rothstein’s gambling license hearing, and while it’s just as disappointing to see a movie like Attack the Block attempt to platform and simply not catch on, there’s at least the feeling it was given a fair shake in the marketplace.
So, are you at all excited to watch the Independence Day guy try and wreck Shakespeare’s reputation now?