Leo's ''Gangs'' finally lands a date, opposite Frodo. Miramax will release ''Gangs of New York'' on Dec. 20, two days after ''The Two Towers'' and five days before DiCaprio's other movie, ''Catch Me if You Can''
Nearly a week after Miramax ended its six-month game of chicken with DreamWorks by moving its Leonardo DiCaprio movie away from the same release date as DreamWorks’ DiCaprio movie, it’s finally picked a solid date for the release of ”Gangs of New York.” But while the movie may have moved out of the way of Leo’s ”Catch Me If You Can” and a host of other Dec. 25 releases, it’s moved up only five days, to Dec. 20, and it will still find itself between a rock and a hard place. The long-awaited Martin Scorsese epic now finds itself sandwiched between the Gangs of Middle-earth (a.k.a. ”The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” on Dec. 18) and the gang of Christmas Day releases — ”Catch,” plus Miramax’s own ”Chicago” and ”Pinocchio,” as well as the studio’s Dec. 27 ”Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”
”Gangs,” of course, was originally supposed to be ready to release in December 2001 (it wasn’t, and it’s still not finished, with Scorsese still doing last-minute sound and music fixes). Since then, its release date has moved at least three times, but Miramax was determined, even after last week’s move away from the ”Catch” date, to release it in December, the last and most visible month of the Oscar eligibility period. But other dates in December looked to be similarly competitive, both among potential nominees and potential box-office blockbusters. Dec. 6 sees ”Analyze That,” while Dec. 13 sees ”Star Trek: Nemesis,” Jennifer Lopez’s ”Maid in Manhattan,” and Jack Nicholson’s ”About Schmidt.” The date Miramax chose for ”Gangs,” Dec. 20, also sees the releases of ”Antwone Fisher” (Denzel Washington’s directorial debut), ”Two Weeks Notice” (the Hugh Grant-Sandra Bullock romantic comedy), Spike Lee’s ”The 25th Hour,” Nickelodeon-spawned cartoon ”The Wild Thornberrys,” and acclaimed indie drama ”Narc.”
Last week, before the studio forestalled a Leo vs. Leo face-off, Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik told Entertainment Weekly, ”This is one of the great times of year to release films. There’s plenty of opportunity for these and other quality projects to succeed.” That’s still the line Miramax is taking, ”’Lord of the Rings’ is a monster,” Miramax distribution chief Rick Sands tells the Hollywood Reporter. ”But there is room in the marketplace for more than one big-grossing epic film.” After all, he notes, last year at this time, the first ”Rings” movie opened against ”Jimmy Neutron,” ”Vanilla Sky,” and ”Ocean’s 11,” and they all did well at the box office. And during the same weekend in 1997, DiCaprio’s ”Titanic” opened against Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond movie ”Tomorrow Never Dies,” both of which became hits. And we all know which actor won that battle.