'Reader' spat now a closed book

Weinstein Co., Rudin settle on winter release to put film in awards race

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 film world's most well-known figures and giving Harvey Weinstein a potential Oscar buzz candidate.

In a joint statement Sunday, Rudin and Weinstein said Stephen Daldry's period love story told against the backdrop of a war-crimes trial would come out 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 film, 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 a 2009 release.

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

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 in 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 of underscoring the compromise and implicitly removing his own involvement (he is friends with both men) from the fray. (partialdiff)
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