With a much buzzed about trailer, a star-studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, and all the glorious eye candy of a costume drama, The Great Gatsby was shaping up to be a major Oscar contender. But Warner Bros. has officially moved the 3-D remake from its awards-season-friendly Dec. 25 release date to summer 2013, raising critics' suspicions (and marking Warner's sixth 2012 schedule change). Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman says only that the studio wants "to ensure this unique film reaches the widest audience possible." But skeptics are pouncing. Here, five other theories:
1. Warner Bros. doesn't think Gatsby is Oscar worthy
This move by Warner Bros. is a clear sign that the studio lacks confidence in the 3-D remake, says Anne Thompson at Indiewire. "It's one thing to take a commercial [action] film and try to make it better in the editing room; it's another to pull a movie with all the hallmarks of an Oscar contender out of the holiday frame."
2. The Christmas season was too crowded
While critics tend to "question the quality of the bumped project, that usually happens if a move comes after ad dollars are spent," says Justin Kroll at Variety, suggesting desperation. In this case, Warners hasn't begun marketing the movie in a huge way, so it's less certain the studio has lost faith. More likely, it wanted to free Gatsby from the crowded holiday slate, which already includes another DiCaprio movie, Django Unchained, and other "high-end literary fare" like Anna Karenina and Les Miserables.
3. It's a 3-D film, so Luhrmann needs more editing time
It's completely feasible that because Gatsby is a 3-D film, the director just needs more time to refine its look, says Guy Lodge at Hit Fix. Yes, that's definitely possible, says Variety's Kroll, considering Luhrmann is notoriously meticulous. This extension would give him "breathing room for 3D post-conversion and soundtrack work."
4. Warner wants fewer of its own movies competing for Oscars
It could just be that Warner Bros. had to prioritize which of its movies it really wants in Oscar contention, says Damon Houx at ScreenCrave. With a Dec. 25 release date, Gatsby would have faced off against two of the studio's most highly anticipated films: The Hobbit and the Wachowski siblings' Cloud Atlas.
5. The change could give Gatsby a lighter feel — and bigger box office
"Considering that summer offers little to no adult-targeted films, it could prove to be a great choice if Warner Bros. can find the right weekend," says Steven Chaitman at We Got This Covered. It's worth noting that director Baz Luhrmann's most profitable film, Moulin Rouge!, was also released in the summer. And a summer release may be more appropriate for this alternative take on a classic, with its 3-D production and hip-hop soundtrack, says Rafer Guzman at Newsday. The timing could "give the movie a lighter feel," making it feel "much less like a literary adaptation."