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With WW II film 'Fury,' a question of the right Oscar battleground

MoviesFilm FestivalsBrad PittToronto International Film FestivalSony Corp.Shia LaBeouf
Brad Pitt's 'Fury,' set in WWII, has emerged as one of the bigger wild cards of the 2014 award season

The mystery of Brad Pitt’s “Fury” — or at least where it will first be seen — became clearer Thursday. A little. Sort of.

David Ayer’s World War II film, starring Pitt and Shia LaBeouf, has emerged in the last few weeks as the fall-festival wild card, one of the few high-profile movies missing on recently announced fest slates.

On Thursday, the London Film Festival said that the movie would close its annual gathering. But organizers called the screening the film’s “European premiere,” suggesting the Sony release will unspool in North America before then--and in any event, the date of the London screening is Oct. 19, two days after the film opens commercially in the U.S.

So where will “Fury” play first?

The most likely spot is the Labor Day-set Telluride Film Festival, which hasn’t announced its slate--though it remains to be seen if the festival, smaller and more intimate than many of its counterparts, would be the best fit for a splashier, more action-filled picture.

The film, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found in the sections of the bigger and glitzier Toronto International Film Festival announced over the last month, though a late add is always a remote possibility.

The movie could alternatively appear in the New York Film Festival when that gathering gets underway at the end of September; while that confab's banner selections have been announced, there is always the possibility of a sneak screening, a recent NYFF practice.

A New York debut would also land the film some high-profile attention as little as a few days before the movie opens commercially in the U.S.

In a less likely occurrence, the movie--whose release was just moved up a month from mid-November, a move that had analysts reading a variety of tea leaves--could bypass U.S. festivals altogether (and the spotlight of the tastemakers who attend them).

Implicit in the fest question is the nature of the movie itself, and the award possibilities thereof. 

"Fury" centers on a wizened army officer named Wardaddy (Pitt) who leads a dangerous Allied mission late in the war. The period setting and high-end cast--as well as the reportedly visceral  scenes of war that are miles away from more sanitized Hollywood depictions --suggests plenty of Oscar potential. On the other hand, a lot of action (not to mention promotion at the recent San Diego Comic-con) suggests the film could also tip the other way.

Ayer himself is an X-factor too—he wrote “Training Day” but also penned “The Fast and Furious," and directed “End of Watch” in addition to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Sabotage.”

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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MoviesFilm FestivalsBrad PittToronto International Film FestivalSony Corp.Shia LaBeouf
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