'Hobbit' behind 'Gatsby' delay?

MICHAEL RECHTSHAFFEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:24 PM ET

HOLLYWOOD - It's not unusual for studios to juggle their release schedules, but when the bumped movie in question happens to be a high-profile, big-budget production originally given a prestige Christmas Day opening, it has folks talking.

And where The Great Gatsby was concerned, the $127 million Leonardo DiCaprio-Tobey Maguire edition which Warner Bros. just announced it was pushing to sometime next summer, the last-minute change in plans might get some to wonder if Gatsby may not be so great after all.

So what's behind the half-year delay?

According to a statement released by the studio, it was felt "movie-goers of all ages are going to embrace it, and it makes sense to ensure this unique film reaches the largest audience possible."

Possible translation #1: The studio thinks it has a better shot as a crowd-pleaser than an Oscar-worthy critics-pleaser.

Possible translation #2: With its lavish 3D effects, the typically extravagant Baz Luhrmann production (see Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet) just wasn't going to be ready in time.

But we think there's another, more inside reason for the change of plans, and it's got everything to do with another high-profile, big-budget production on Warner Bros.' 2012 awards season roster.

It's the part one of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, slated to arrive in North American theatres on Dec. 14, and, if it's anywhere as good as the Lord of the Rings movies (and there's no reason to think it won't be), it would be going after many of the same technical awards as the Luhrmann movie.

Considering Warner Bros. is going to be in the Hobbit habit for two more instalments (the first two were shot back to back) whereas Gatsby's a one-off, where do you think the studio would prefer to focus its Oscar-marketing energies?

And let's not forget another prestigious release on this year's WB schedule, namely Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.

After failing to land 2008's The Dark Knight an anticipated Best Picture nomination, this would be the studio's last chance to do everything in its marketing power to do the trilogy -- and Nolan -- justice.

And it can't afford for an 87-year-old F. Scott Fitzgerald story to divert its Oscar-wooing attention.


Videos

Photos