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Oscar Watch: Will Johnny Depp’s ‘Rum Diary’ put FilmDistrict in the awards game?

There are very few individual independent movie marketers who play the awards season game as well as Bob Berney.  While at Picturehouse, he help land a best actress Oscar for Marion Cotillard’s work in “La Vie En Rose” and three wins out of six nominations for Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth.”  And even at the short lived Apparition, Berney used awards season to reach an impressive $4.4 million gross for Jane Champion’s “Bright Star” and three Academy Award nominations and one win for “The Young Victoria.”  Berney has yet another home, FilmDistrict, and it’s no surprise he’s set to enter the awards game again this fall.  Today, FilmDistrict announced it will release the movie adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Rum Diary” starring Johnny Depp on Oct. 28.

Directed by Bruce Robinson (“Withnail and I”), “Diary” find reporter Paul Kemp (Depp) escaping 1950’s New York for the more liberal sands of Puerto Rico to write for a local San Juan paper.  There he becomes entangled with an American couple (Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart) and finds out the paradise is not what it seems.

FilmDistrict distributing “Diary” is somewhat expected considering the film’s producer, Graham King, also co-founded the new mini-major.  In a release King states, “‘The Rum Diary’ is a special project for all of us here, as it is a true collaboration between both of our entities. Depp gives an extraordinary performance in this remarkable adaptation.”
Of course, word is the two-year-old film was submitted to Cannes last year and did not get a warm reception and did not play the festival. Whether changes have been made since then remain to be seen.

Audiences will be able to judge that for themselves when “Diary” opens on Oct. 28.

In other awards season news…

– AFI FEST 2011 is on the books.  AFI announced the annual awards season screening festival will be held Nov. 3-10 and once again make it’s home at the Hollywood & Highland Center.  This means Mann’s Chinese Theater will once again hold LA premieres for a number of prestige players.  Last year, “The King’s Speech,” “Black Swan,” “Barney’s Version,” “The Company Men,” “Casino Jack” and “Rabbit Hole” were among just a few of the awards players who screened at the festival.

– The Acadmey of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is holding a rare, but well deserved special tribute for a former Oscar winner in May.  The one and only Sophia Loren will be honored on May 14 when “An Academy Tribute to Sophia Loren” is held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.  Loren won a best actress Oscar in 1961 for “Two Women” and was also bestowed with an honorary Oscar by the Academy in 1990.  Tickets are $5 and available at Oscars.org.

By Gregory Ellwood – Plus: AFI Returns and Sophia Loren tribute set

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