George Clooney has been describing "The Monuments Men" as populist entertainment since the project was first announced in January of 2012. "I'm excited about it," Clooney said to TheWrap at the time. "It's a fun movie because it could be big entertainment. It's a big budget, you can't do it small."
The film's December release date and high-wattage roster of talent, however, had some angling the film as an awards contender. (In addition to Clooney, who also co-wrote and directed the film, fellow Oscar winners Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett and Jean Dujardin all co-star, as does Bill Murray, a past nominee.) Was Sony's decision to move "The Monuments Men" from its high-profile date to February an indication of the film's critical worth?
Not at all according to Clooney, who spoke to Deadline.com's Mike Fleming on Wednesday to refute a report by Sharon Waxman, editor of TheWrap, about apparent tonal issues he was struggling with in the "Monuments Men" editing room.
"I was talking awhile ago about 'Gravity,' [and Sharon Waxman] says, 'How's it going on 'Monuments Men'?' and I say, 'It's a tricky tone,' and she writes this piece that the movie is in trouble over tone," Clooney said. "She doesn't call me, and it's absolutely ridiculous and false." (Waxman's original interview with Clooney originally occurred on Oct. 9.)
The real problem, according to Clooney, is that the film's effects work isn't ready yet. "We didn’t make it," Clooney said. "It's that simple. It's certainly not about tone of the film, because it's testing through the roof. We said, 'Let's just find a spot where the movie can find an actual audience instead of fighting with 22 other films in December."
To that end, "The Monuments Men" was going to battle out against "Saving Mr. Banks," "Anchorman: The Legend Continues," "The Wolf of Wall Street," "American Hustle," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" at the box office in the last two weeks of the year. If it opens in February, as Clooney has suggested, the film will face fewer competitors.
Nothing Clooney said to Deadline.com, however, should be too surprising. He made similar comments to The Los Angeles Times when announcing the "Monuments Men" delay.
"If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy," Clooney said. "We simply don't have enough people to work enough hours to finish it."