“Molly’s Game” Premiere Delayed Until Christmas – Good or Bad for the Film?



While initial showings have been received surprisingly well, the distribution company behind the upcoming film based on the autobiography of Molly Bloom has decided to push the opening of the film back.

Molly’s Game, the Aaron Sorkin adapted and directed film based on Bloom’s book of the same name, has been making the rounds of different festivals. These festivals usually allow for a “buzz” to build regarding a film or an actor’s performance in a film. With Molly’s Game, there has been a great deal of praise for the film and for its stars, Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba.

First, however, there was a bit more drama for Bloom herself. One of the premiere showings of the film was in Toronto, Canada, at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Bloom, as a convicted felon because of her 2014 plea bargain with the federal government, originally could not cross the border. Sorkin had to step in and negotiate with Canadian officials to grant a 48-hour pass for Bloom to attend the premiere with her father.

Molly’s Game is, as expected, based on Bloom’s book where she recounts her life as one of the major players in the world of high stakes cash games. First, Bloom catered to the elite of Hollywood as host of the most exclusive game in town, one that included actors such as Ben Affleck and Leonardo di Caprio, major Hollywood directors and executives from both Tinseltown and the business world. After a great deal of success there, Bloom moved a version of the game to New York City. It was there than she ran afoul of the Russian mob and, eventually, was caught in a gambling raid that shut down her operation.

Those that read the book shouldn’t be looking for a verbatim transcription of the book to film. Sorkin has said he wasn’t interested in the poker aspects of the book, rather the “journey” of Bloom from an Olympic-quality skier to the host of high stakes poker games. Sorkin has said that he wouldn’t use any names of “big” players and, in fact, created Elba’s character (which didn’t appear in the book) as a method of telling the story.

It seems that Sorkin’s method of telling Bloom’s story and cutting back on the poker content was the right decision. Reviews from several outlets have applauded the performances of both Chastain and Elba, even to the point of touting both for possible nomination for best actor and actress at the Academy Awards (it doesn’t hurt that these two are darlings of the critics, either). In their review, Indiewire.com said that Chastain “hasn’t been this good since Zero Dark Thirty (the 2012 film that earned a Best Picture nomination and Chastain a Best Actress nomination). Collider.com states that “Chastain and Elba’s rapport in these scenes is positively electric…the best parts of the film usually happen whenever these two are on the screen together.”

These accolades aren’t getting Molly’s Game to the silver screen any faster, however. Originally slated to be released during the Thanksgiving weekend, the film will be “slow-walked” to the theaters, first in a limited release on Christmas Day, then what is called a “wide release” on January 5. The reasons for the change is perplexing for a few reasons.

Films normally released during the Christmas holiday are being “dumped” by their studios because they know there isn’t an audience at that time of year or, to be painfully blunt, they are terrible films that have to be released for contractual reasons. On the other hand, it isn’t uncommon for studios to have a “limited release” for a film at the end of the year, and then a full release a couple of weeks later, so that it qualifies for major awards such as the Golden Globes and the Oscars. It is difficult to sometimes see which one applies regarding many films but, with the accolades that have been laid upon Chastain, Elba, Kevin Costner (who plays a supporting role as Bloom’s father) and Sorkin (for his adaptation and directing), it wouldn’t be incorrect to assume the latter.

While it may not be the full-out poker movie that the community wants, Molly’s Game might provide a nice dramatic respite for poker fans. If nothing else, seeing Bloom’s words come to life in the persona of Chastain might be about as good as can be hoped for – unless you were there during Bloom’s original home games.

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