Has the Hollywood press lost all credibility by starting Oscar buzz about a film 10 months before the awards? Or is it a case of cinematic love at first sight?
Ang Lee, the director who gave us Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has for years been talking about his "unfilmable film" adaptation of the 2001 novel Life of Pi.
Then in April at CinemaCon, a global convention of cinema owners and operators in Las Vegas, Twentieth Century Fox unveiled the first footage of the film. Their presentation received full marks for content - and hype - but was possibly a failure in terms of expectation management.
For then, less than two months after the 2012 Academy Awards had been presented, the 2013 Oscars buzz commenced and Life of Pi had gone from "unfilmable" to the middle of the awards conversation.
Today the first trailer for the film is released.
Based on Yann Martel's Mann Booker Prize winning novel the film tells the story of Piscene Molitor Patel "Pi" an Indian boy whose family packs up their zoo of animals and board a ship bound for America, who is hurtled into an epic journey after a disaster leaves him alone with a Bengal tiger in a lifeboat. Pi and the tiger then strike up a surprising friendship which spans two oceans and three continents.
At CinemaCon, the Pi presentation boasted that Lee would raise the cinematic bar, by combining "the visual effects of Titanic, the creative 3D revolution of Avatar, [and] the emotional CG character work of Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
Attempting to reseal the envelope after the name has been spoken, following the April presentation, Lee told the LA Times that he "would like people to get surprised about my work, instead of it being over-hyped. That's what I'd be more comfortable with. But it's a big picture. I have to go with the flow."
As well as directing his acting debut, Lee had to arrange swimming lessons for Indian actor Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi, but couldn't swim a stroke prior to the production.
"I met him, I tested him, and he held his breath for 20 seconds. So I got him a swimming coach, work-out coach -- every coach," Lee said. "He gives an emotional performance in a movie that has the look of a family film, but it's also a movie about big ideas. I hope people will spend weeks talking about it -- that's my idea of a family film."
Now you can judge - or at least guess - based on the trailer, whether the supremely early Oscar buzz was justified. And will it hurt or help Life of Pi at the box office?
Watch the trailer and let us know what you think in the comments.
Life of Pi is currently slated for release on the 1st January in New Zealand.
What did you think of Seth MacFarlane as Oscar host?Related story: (See story)