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Peter Weir’s ‘The Way Back’ Lands an Oscar Run

Australian director’s drama gets December release, expanding field of potential Best Picture nominees

Another potential Best Picture contender has just entered the Oscar race.

Peter Weir’s “The Way Back,” which played to positive reviews at the Telluride Film Festival, will be given an Oscar-qualifying run in 2010 prior to its January 2011 release, Exclusive Media Group and Wrekin Hill Entertainment announced on Tuesday.

The film is based on the Slavomir Rawicz’s book “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom,” and on other accounts of the escape of a small band of prisoners from a Soviet gulag in 1940. The group traveled thousands of miles and crossed five countries in their journey from Siberia to freedom.

Colin Farrell and Ed Harris“This is quietly profound, epic, bold filmmaking at its very best,” wrote Kris Tapley after the film’s debut in Telluride.

Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell and Saoirse Ronan star in the film, the first for Australian director Weir since his 2004 Best Picture nominee “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

Weir’s other films include “Gallipoli,” “The Year of Living Dangerously,” “Witness,” “Dead Poet’s Society” and “The Truman Show.” He has been nominated for six Oscars for writing, directing and producing, but has never won.

In the press release announcing the qualifying run, Exclusive CEO Nigel Sinclair and National Geographic Entertainment president Daniel Battsek commented, “After the positive reception and critical acclaim we received at Telluride, it was clear that ‘The Way Back’ should have an Oscar qualifying run. It was incredibly gratifying that audiences and critics responded so favorably to Peter Weir’s vision, the actors’ outstanding performances, and the stunning craftwork.”

The qualifying engagement will begin on December 29 in Los Angeles, followed by a theatrical run on more than 500 screens in late January.

“The Way Back” will be the first film produced by Exclusive and distributed through exclusive’s subsidiary Newmarket in partnership with the newly-formed Wrekin Hill.