'Reader' release is set

Weinstein, Rudin compromise on a Dec. 12 bow

The Oscar race just got more interesting.

The Weinstein Co. will release the Scott Rudin-produced postwar tale "The Reader" this year after all, resolving a long-brewing drama between two of the prestige world's most well-known figures and giving a longtime awards player like Harvey Weinstein a potential buzz candidate.

In a joint statement on Sunday, Rudin and Weinstein said that Stephen Daldry's period love story told against the backdrop of a war-crimes trial would come out on Dec. 12, in keeping with the plan that for months Weinstein had supported and Rudin had resisted.

"We are in complete agreement on the date we have chosen," the pair said in the statement. "Working together, we developed a plan to extend the postproduction schedule in order to give Stephen Daldry the additional time he needs to successfully complete the film."

The movie automatically becomes an awards priority for Weinstein, who has been eager for an Oscar candidate. The picture, which stars Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, enters a season in which there are few frontrunners and a number of top hopefuls that have yet to be seen.

The decision also brings to an end a release-date skirmish that had centered on two issues. There had been questions whether the movie, which is currently in post, could be done in time for approaching awards deadlines, as well as opposition from Rudin, who already had two other awards movies out this year and was lobbying for an '09 release.

In addition, Winslet had said she was not sure she would do media for "The Reader" while she promoted another awards candidate, "Revolution Road," which is also produced by Rudin and is directed by her husband, Sam Mendes.

The compromise comes after days of negotiations between the two men and results in what sources say is added financial and staffing support from Weinstein to allow Daldry to finish the movie on time for a December release.

Daldry has been working on the movie while prepping a Broadway adaptation of "Billy Elliot" for November. He also issued a statement Sunday, making a point to underscore the compromise and implicitly remove his own involvement (he is friends with both men) from the fray.

"On their own, Scott and Harvey spent this weekend working together to find a way to accommodate my needs so that I may fulfill my obligation to the studio without compromising my vision for the film. I am thrilled and relieved that we have all found a way forward to work together to bring 'The Reader' to theaters this year."

The resolution allows both Rudin and Weinstein to claim victories of sorts -- though the Weinstein Co. does prevail in the battle to release the movie in 2008, the added support allows Rudin to say that he has extracted concessions from the distributor.
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