There are many reasons to explain why global release dates for films can vary so much from country to country. Some films need dubbing, others need to ferry their cast around for promotion, whilst a handful see the distributor test the waters before spending on global advertising. In the case of a select few, however, the delays are tactical strikes at nailing the box office and the awards season.
Film distributers are savvy folk. They know that successful awards-season films can accumulate a lot of free advertising from newspapers, blogs and social media. When better, then, to release your prize film than at the same time the whole critical world seems to be singing its praises?
Except, there’s a hitch. In the case of the Academy Awards, a film can only qualify for the competition if it was released in the preceding year – that’s a good two months before the main event. In an attempt to stay fresh in the minds of voters, this is why such films are usually crammed into the last three months of the year in America. What you may have noticed, however, is that, this doesn’t happen in the UK.
The reason for this is that the BAFTAs, next held on 18 February 2018, have different criteria to their stateside counterparts. Whilst BAFTA voters must have seen the films before the end of 2017, all features publicly released in UK cinemas between 1 January 2017 and 16 February 2018 are eligible.
With all that in mind, here are five of the best films taking America by storm now but making the rest of us wait it out…
1. Darkest Hour (Joe Wright)
US: 22 Nov 17 / UK: 12 Jan 18
It may have a British cast, British crew and British setting, but Joe Wright’s Churchill biopic, starring a tipped-to-win Gary Oldman, has been out for sometime in America already. That’s fine, we’re not bitter. (British sarcasm)
2. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
US: 10 Nov 17 / UK: 12 Jan 18
Having done the rounds at the Venice, Toronto and San Sebastián film festivals, Three Billboards has already been scooping up awards and nominations. To rub salt into the wounds, yep – another British director here.
3. The Post (Stephen Spielberg)
US: 22 Dec 17 / UK: 19 Jan 18
With Hanks, Streep and Spielberg, they might has well have called this one ‘The Gong’. I’s already pulled in a handful of the top awards at the recent National Board of Review. Fox certainly expect The Post to deliver; a limited release for America in December qualifies the film for the Oscars, ahead of a nationwide release in January. The UK gets it a week after that.
4. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
US: 3 Nov 17 / UK: 16 Feb 18
‘Big screen perfection’ say the critics. ‘Cutting it fine for BAFTA qualification’ say The Film Blog. Keep your eyes pealed for Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, it’s a hot contender.
5. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)
US: 1 Dec 17 / UK: 16 Feb 18
In what can only be described as a herculean display of versatility, Del Toro’s new film stars a Sally Hawkins fresh from Paddington 2 and next to appear in the new Godzilla blockbuster. A huge hit at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the prestigious Golden Lion, The Shape of Water is one to watch. It’s also grabbed a cushy slot on the eve of the BAFTAs.
Let us know in the comments what you’re most looking forward to!