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“Anonymous” scales back release plans, going limited – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell The period mystery “Anonymous” is a step in a different direction for director Roland Emmerich. The world isn’t in peril. A-listers aren’t racing for their lives from a natural disaster. Instead, the “2012” and “Independence Day” director explores a popular myth regarding the proper author of William Shakespeare’s timeless plays. (Here’s a hint: Emmerich doesn’t believe it was Shakespeare.)

“Anonymous” screened for critics at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and was preparing to open wide next week on Friday, Oct. 28. But Sony is reversing its course, opting to open Emmerich’s drama in 250 theaters in hopes of generating concentrated, positive buzz as they slowly roll the picture out.

“We love the picture and think it’s going to get great word of mouth,” Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution, told the L.A. Times. “We’re committed to expanding it until it plays wide.”

The studio also has hopes for the film’s awards chances. Standouts in Emmerich’s cast include Rhys Ifans, playing tortured Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, and Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I, whose soft spot for the theatre leads to various troubles for all involved.

The strongest awards chances for this bold drama likely will be in the technical categories. Emmerich has fashioned an ornate period piece that deftly recreates Shakespeare’s London as it pushes its underlying message about the power of the written word.

See for yourself when “Anonymous” reaches a theater near you. Sony’s rollout will begin in major cities on Oct. 28, and will expand in time.

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