Why The Timing a Movie Comes Out Matters for the Oscars

There can be no doubt about the fact that the timing of a movie has an impact on its chances at the Oscars. In brief, a later release means a higher chance of winning the Oscars, though it should be noted that there is a fair amount of nuance packed up into that statement. For example, movies released in December are likelier to receive nominations, but it is the movies released in October and November that are likelier to win at the Oscars, which could be because they hit a sweet spot between being too early to be remembered and too late to be watched by the people who vote on the nominees.

Regardless, these trends are far from being unknown to the people in the entertainment industries. For proof, look no further than the fact that it is conventional wisdom for movies seen as Oscar bait to be released in the fall, whereas summer tends to see a lot of movies that are believed to have excellent prospects from a commercial but not from a critical perspective. However, it is interesting to note that this rule is from from being ironclad, as shown by the fact that Dunkirk was released on July 21.

Why was Dunkirk release when it was?

For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Dunkirk is a war movie based on the Battle of Dunkirk, which is one of the better-remembered moments of the Second World War. In brief, when the Nazis outfought the French in the Battle of France, the speed of their advance meant that there was a real chance of them capturing the ports before the British Expeditionary Force and their French allies could evacuate, which would have left them trapped in an occupied country. However, a combination of ships from the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, foreign allies, and even British civilians managed to rescue more than 300,000 people, which was helped by the Nazis’ choice to consolidate their positions and resupply their overstretched troops instead of pushing for a decisive battle as soon as possible. Summed up, the Battle of Dunkirk was not exactly the sort of thing that tends to be shown in summer blockbusters but rather the human drama that is perfect for Oscar bait, which made its release in July that much more curious.

However, it should be noted that there is reason to the choice. First, Christopher Nolan is more interested in getting people to see the movie than to win awards, which would have been threatened if people believed that it was Oscar bait. Second, even if a movie comes out earlier, it is not impossible for it to make up for that problem through a well-run promotion campaign. Seeing as how Warner Bros. Pictures has plenty of cash to back up its movies, this should not be an issue for Dunkirk as it might have been for something produced by smaller companies. Regardless, seeing as how Dunkirk is expected to earn a respectable $51 million on its opening weekend in spite of its serious subject matter, it seems clear that Nolan is getting what we wanted.

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