The only thing that feels more absurd than opening movie theaters on July 1st might be to welcome them back with a road-raging, murderous Russell Crowe thriller. That’s the plan for independent production company Solstice Studios, bumping the film Unhinged from its planned release date of September 4 to the now-vacant July 4 weekend.
With its sights on what’s usually one of the biggest movie weekends of the year, Unhinged hopes to get out in front of competition before large-scale blockbusters plan to debut in earnest later this summer. The film stars Crowe as a shaggy, unkempt man who’s sent over the edge once a single mother...honks her horn at him. Based on the first trailer, Crowe’s character proceeds to terrorize this woman with his pickup truck, casting a wide net of collateral damage to other people close to her. Crowe still has some residual effects from his Golden Globe-winning transformation into Roger Ailes, and is close to how I imagine myself looking whenever quarantine ends.
Solstice Studios head Mark Gill tells Deadline that he’s privately polled 1,000 moviegoers, both to confirm consumer confidence in returning to theaters in July, and that they’d be interested in a gonzo thriller like Unhinged. Gill also says he’s consulted with public health experts at NATO to see if this is feasible. “The first call was to John Fithian at NATO, whose organization is in touch with state public services departments, and if they had said you can’t open theaters, we would have said forget it. We don’t want to do anything that isn’t safe and expert-guided.”
It’s an interesting opportunity for a mid-budget movie like this that might otherwise be relegated to the fall or January. Getting out in front of the planned release dates for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Mulan, the first major films on the calendar that could still end up being delayed, gives Unhinged a chance to be the only game in town for a few weeks. It looks completely campy and wild, and I’d probably watch it if it came on cable. Now, going through TSA-style security checks in the heat of July may be a tougher sell than Gill’s independent polling would suggest.
If Unhinged becomes the year’s biggest hit, Crowe can potentially use his earnings to pay back the more than $100,000 in unpaid income taxes he owes to my home state. Silver linings, I guess.