‘The Master’ release date moves up to Sept. 14 [update]

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Paul Thomas Anderson’s film”The Master” -- highly anticipated in part because its story seems to have much in common with Scientology -- will debut a month earlier than originally scheduled.

Weinstein Co. announced Friday that it will open the Philip Seymour Hoffman-starrer on Sept. 14 in New York and Los Angeles, with an expansion to other cities planned for the following weekend.

As part of its plans, the company is shifting its Brad Pitt-starrer “Killing Them Softly,” which they acquired before this year’s Cannes Film Festival, from Sept. 21 to Oct. 19.


The reason for the switch is not clear, especially considering that early September is not often looked at as a prime movie-going season because many families are preoccupied with back-to-school events. However, Scientology is in the news now because of the high-profile Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise divorce, and Weinstein may be looking to use the current events to generate more interest in the film.

The date shift leaves unclear what will happen to the film’s prospects for a festival appearance.

The Toronto International Film Festival has yet to announce its entire slate, but the high-profile Gala screenings, which were revealed Tuesday, did not feature “The Master.” Some are speculating that the drama, which co-stars Joaquin Phoenix as a loner who becomes involved in a cult led by Hoffman’s character, will still have its debut at the festival, just one week before its theatrical debut. (Toronto begins on Sept. 6.)

Another option might be the Telluride Film Festival, held over Labor Day weekend, or Venice. “The Master” was filmed in 70mm, and Weinstein is eager for the film to be shown in that format, so that may be one sticking point as far as festivals go.

[Update, July 27, 5 p.m.] Erik Lomis, president of distribution at Weinstein Co., said the reason for the move was simple: “We feel that the film is great. It plays great, and we wanted to get out in front of everyone else.”

The new date will get “The Master” ahead of other award-season hopefuls, including Warner Bros.’ “Argo,” directed by and starring Ben Affleck. That’s slated for an Oct. 12 release.


The studio declined to comment.


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