It seems the spark has died for Benedict Cumberbatch’s next release, The Current War. The Weinstein Company film was expected to be a top contender in this year’s Oscar race, but in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations and subsequent dismissal of company head Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood behemoth was forced to make some tough decisions. Cumberbatch has been one of many celebrities to speak against the actions of Harvey Weinstein, despite having worked closely with him many times in the past. So not only is The Current War out of the 2018 Oscar race, it won’t be released for this season at all. The film was originally scheduled to be released in a prime cinema slot — Thanksgiving. Now, however, the Weinstein Company has chosen to delay the release until next year.
I would like to believe this delay is out of respect for those personally affected by Weinstein’s actions, and perhaps that is certainly part of it, but it is clear that this was a money move. The truth of the matter is that Oscar films are rarely won on cinematic merit. “The Academy” is not a critical judging panel like you might imagine, it’s really just a big group of Hollywood elites that get campaigned at by production companies and networks. With enough bribery, a company can win their film an Oscar or two.
There is a currently a large push to dismiss all of the high-level employees at The Weinstein Company, under the assumption that they were aware of Weinstein’s actions and made no move to report them. So now the company has two options: 1) Dismantle the company as it is and have no one to push for their films (specifically The Current War) during this crucial time for Oscar votes, or 2) campaign with all the baggage.
Well, it was clear option 2 just wasn’t going to work, and their huge high-budget Current War project was going to get no sympathy from anyone in Hollywood because of fear of the association to Weinstein. On top of that, without an Oscar nomination, The Current War was probably going to underwhelm at the box office based on the poor reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival.
So with no hope of campaigning and no faith the film could survive on its own, The Weinstein Company decided to push the release back, in the hopes that it will be able to compete for the gold next year.