Clint Eastwood’s newest film, American Sniper, has had its release date pushed up to Christmas Day.
The film, which stars Bradley Cooper, was originally slated to open in 2015. Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures announced this week that they will instead open the film in limited release on Christmas Day, then expand it into nationwide release on January 16.
This move suggests that the studio believes American Sniper could be a major player during awards season. In 2004, the studio similarly gave Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby a fairly last-minute mid-December release, and it went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Eastwood also won for Best Director, while Hilary Swank won Best Actress, and Morgan Freeman took home Best Supporting Actor.
American Sniper is based on Chris Kyle’s book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Kyle was a Navy SEAL who claimed more than 255 kills during his time in the service. He was shot and killed at a gun range in 2013 by a fellow veteran he was attempting to help with post-traumatic stress issues.
Bradley Cooper plays Kyle in the film, which also stars Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Kyle Gallner, and Sam Jaeger. It is said to have been a passion project for Cooper, who also produced.
American Sniper will face a fair amount of competition, as Christmas Day is already crowded with new releases. It will go up against Disney’s adaptation of the musical Into the Woods, the Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken (also based on a well-known book), the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview, the animated family film Paddington, and the comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2.
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