EXCLUSIVE: I hear the dailies of Jennifer Hudson in MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect are mind blowing, and to tee off the feature just right, the studio is moving it off its Oct. 9 release date for a limited Christmas Day debut.

From there, Respect will expand on January 8 in theaters with a full-on wide release on January 15, which is MLK weekend.

While many studios jockey to launch their awards season fare in the thick of autumn, a movie can still go in the tail-end holiday season to garnish buzz and bucks, i.e. American Sniper, 1917 and Hidden Figures, all of which were blockbusters and Oscar-lauded movies.

Respect is directed by Liesl Tommy, and stars Dreamgirls Oscar winner Hudson as Franklin, Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington and Titus Burgess as Rev. Dr. James Cleveland.

Respect was set to go wide on Oct. 9 and moves away from 20th Century Studios’ Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie feature adaptation Death on the Nile and Warner Bros.’ The Witches.

On Dec. 25, Respect is the only exclusive release, though next to 20th Century Studios’ limited opening of The Duel (which could likely move since production was stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak).

The wide entries on Jan. 15 currently include Sony’s Kevin Hart movie Fatherhood, Universal’s Simon Kinberg action thriller 355, Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat and United Artists Releasing’s untitled Guy Ritchie film.

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