When Touchstone Pictures released the film The Help in August of this past year, I have to trust that their choice was based on the thought that the August release date would be the best financial release date for the film. August seems to be the prime release date for a "book club favorite." This type of August release still gives it a summer film status without the early replacement by the next big superhero or talking dog movie.
Yet, as soon as the Oscar field expanded from it's traditional 5 film nomination status, I have been curious to see if that might spread out the release dates of Oscar winning films.
It's hard to tell how a widened Oscar field impact studio release plans, but at a minimum it seems like summer brings a couple Oscar nominees every year for the past couple year, with around three May/June/July/August films receiving an Oscar nomination.
2011's films were not an exception. I won't complaint about critically acclaimed films being released before thanksgiving and being remembered in time for Oscar season.
Here's a list of this year's 10 nominees in order of their non-festival US release date and number of screens on that date...
Midnight in Paris (May 20, 2011 - 6 screens)
The Tree of Life (May 27, 2011 - 4 screens)
The Help (August 10, 2011 - 2511 screens)
Moneyball (September 23, 2011 - 2933 screens)
The Descendants (November 16, 2011 - 29 screens)
Hugo (November 23, 2011 - 1277 screens)
The Artist (November 25, 2011 - 4 screens)
Warhorse (December 25, 2011 - 2376 screens)
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (December 25, 2011 - 6 screens)
*Pictured above, Viola Davis in The Help.