Perhaps sensing the film’s award credentials, Focus Features has uprooted Juan Antonino Bayona’s A Monster Calls from its original October release date and thrust the fantasy flick directly into Oscar territory.
Now on course to debut via select theaters on December 23 before expanding nationwide on January 6, the studio’s switcheroo can also be seen as a means of safeguarding Bayona’s hotly-anticipated adaptation from the competition. Originally slated to arrive on October 21, A Monster Calls was being readied to square off against the Tom Cruise-fronted sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Boo! A Madea Halloween and Ouija: Origin of Evil. For the sake of comparison, it’s now due to open against Amityville: The Awakening and horror sequel/franchise revival Underworld: Blood Wars on January 6.
Indeed, the decision also affords A Monster Calls some breathing space going into the fall, where it’s due to make its worldwide premiere at Toronto International Film Festival next month. This, coupled with the poignant trailers and snaps released thus far, lead us to believe that Focus Features could be on to a winner.
Based on Patrick Ness’ bestseller, newcomer Lewis MacDougall anchors the story as a troubled young boy struggling to come to terms with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) terminal sickness – a spot of soul-searching that has our protagonist crossing paths with a giant tree monster (Liam Neeson), of all things. Sigourney Weaver and Toby Kebbell also star.
A Monster Calls will stomp into theaters nationwide on January 6.