The Gangs turf war is finally over.
Director Martin Scorsese's long-delayed Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle Gangs of New York, which relinquished its planned Christmas Day release date to avoid bumping into another DiCaprio flick, DreamWorks' Catch Me If You Can, finally has a date. Miramax has decided to release the movie on December 20.
The earlier street date means the tale of revenge among 19th century Irish immigrants will now make its U.S. bow one day before the film's scheduled international release on December 21 and two days after another new epic, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, hits the big screen.
Studio executives believe the five-day window separating it from director Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can should satisfy both the studios and DiCaprio's fans.
"We get the 18 to 34 audience immediately and then we kick in after Christmas with [older] people who are more word of mouth driven so it's actually more perfect for us," said Rick Sands, Miramax's chief operating officer.
The Yuletide showdown would've bad for both studios, but more so for Miramax since Gangs is the mini-major's most expensive film ever at a cost of $100 million.
It's also the tougher sell between the two. Unlike Catch Me If you Can where a slimmed down, clean-shaven DiCaprio plays a baby-faced con man wanted by the FBI, Scorsese's epic features the thespian sporting a bulked-up frame and a grubby look--not exactly the King of the World he was in Titanic.
"There would have been a fight between the two for which is the lead review," added Sands. "We felt that by separating them even by five days would've allowed each movie to stand on their own...because they're really separate animals. Both we and DreamWorks are happy with our respective decisions."
Miramax considered releasing Gangs on December 6th, 13th or the 20th, but opted for the later date to avoid getting lost in the crowded holiday season. The studio could have opened the movie earlier opposite Analyze That on the 6th or Star Trek: Nemesis on the 13th, but Sands said the films had a similar target audience "which is college-age people and up."
Instead, Miramax executives decided to pick a fight with New Line's would-be box-office behemoth Two Towers, which comes out on December 18. Though both films are sweeping epics, Sands noted that Gangs appeals to older viewers given its historical setting and R rating, whereas the PG-13 rated Two Towers will draw a younger audience.
"Historically the market place can handle more than one blockbuster movie," said Sands. "Last year was Vanilla Sky, Ocean's 11 and Lord of the Rings and they all had fabulous opening weekends. Back in 1997 you had Titanic and James Bond's Tomorrow Never Dies."
However the match-up plays out, the highly-touted Gangs-Rings faceoff is probably only good news for Miramax honchos Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
They're executive producers of both films.