By Joey Nolfi
Updated July 18, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Fences by August Wilson
Credit: Joan Marcus
  • Movie

Adding fuel to Fences‘ awards season fire, Paramount has set Denzel Washington’s third directorial feature for a Dec. 16 limited release date in New York and Los Angeles, EW can confirm.

Following its specialty run, the Scott Rudin-produced drama, based on the late August Wilson’s adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, will expand nationwide on Christmas Day.

Fences tells the story of a Negro League baseball player, Troy Maxson (Washington), who, retired and working as a garbage man, grapples with family matters as he regretfully remembers missing out on a chance to play in the Major League.

Washington previously won a Tony award for his performance in the 2010 Broadway revival of Fences, which starred Viola Davis in the Tony-winning role of Maxson’s wife, Rose. Davis returns for the big-screen adaptation alongside Mykelti Williamson and Russell Hornsby, who reprise their respective roles as Gabriel and Lyons in the upcoming movie.

The film entered production earlier this year in Wilson’s hometown of Pittsburgh, where local news outlets documented the transformation of the city’s historic Hill District into the film’s 1950s set.

Fences wrapped in June, and star Viola Davis celebrated the end of filming on Twitter. “It’s a wrap!! This is history!” she wrote. “Thank you Denzel! Thank you August…. “It’s time August! It’s time”!”

Oscar nominations voting takes place shortly after Fences‘ planned wide release, between Jan. 5-13 in 2017. Though Paramount hasn’t won a Best Picture Oscar since their Paramount Vantage offshoot distributed No Country for Old Men in 2007, the company’s financial crisis comedy The Big Short generated awards season heat last year as it won top honors from the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild ahead of scoring a Best Picture nomination. The previous year, the studio’s Ava DuVernay-directed historical drama Selma received nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song, ultimately winning in the latter category.


  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 138 minutes
  • Denzel Washington