'Chappaquiddick' Gets Awards-Qualifying Release Date (Exclusive)

Courtesy of TIFF

Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios will release the period drama about a young Sen. Ted Kennedy in December.

Chappaquiddick, about the car accident that ended the presidential aspirations of a young Sen. Ted Kennedy, is officially joining the Oscar race, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios will release the Jason Clarke starrer Dec. 8. The upstart distributor bought the drama at the Toronto Film Festival for $4 million and made a $16 million prints-and-advertising commitment. Entertainment Studios plans to mount a best actor campaign for Clarke among other categories.

Written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan, the story centers on Kennedy's (Clarke) infamous car accident, where he drove off a bridge in the summer of 1969, leaving his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), to drown. Kennedy left the scene of the accident, returned home and failed to report the accident for nine hours.

John Curran directed the film, which also stars Ed Helms, Bruce Dern and Jim Gaffigan.

Chappaquiddick won't be the only film with awards-season ambitions opening on that date. Neon's I, Tonya also will begin a platform run Dec. 8, as will Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water from Fox Searchlight. Like Chappaquiddick, Shape of Water and I, Tonya screened in Toronto earlier this month.