As was the case with HBO's Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Lionsgate has very discreetly opened Bill Maher's Religulous in two theaters -- one in New York, the other in Los Angeles -- in an qualifying run for next year's Academy Awards.
As pointed out by Jeff Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere, the Academy's Rule 12 states that any documentary hoping to qualify must open in both Los Angeles Country and the borough of Manhattan for at least one week prior to the end of August. Having already premiered at the Traverse City Film Festival, the doc will then formally show at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, before opening proper on October 3rd.
However, I'm not sure that I entirely
understand agree with the logic that any damage would be done should any enterprising critic (like this guy) head out to one of these wholly public showings and subsequently write up a review. Sure, I'm speaking as a guy who lives in the O.C. of Fla., but seriously: What harm? What foul?