At the current moment, it’s hard to imagine what the awards season will look like this year, with so many films getting pushed back and delayed indefinitely. Many would-be early contenders might see September or October releases making for an even more crowded field. As the pieces begin to shift, arguably, MGM’s biggest contender just made a strategic move that’ll ensure it remains in the awards conversation.

According to The Wrap, MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic titled “Respect” will move from its original limited-release date of Oct. 9, for Dec. 25, Christmas Day. The film will expand on Jan. 8 and receive a full theatrical release on Jan. 15 (MLK weekend).

“Respect is directed by Liesel Tommy and stars Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson stars as Franklin with Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, and Tituss Burgess. The film follows Aretha Franklin’s rise to stardom beginning at an early age singing in her father’s church and journeying to become one of the most legendary singers in history. “Respect” has screamed awards potential ever since it was announced, and given Hudson’s vocal talents and resume, there’s a high possibility she turns in another Oscar-worthy performance.

The COVID-19 crisis is sure to make this fall a crowded awards season, and given “Respect” was set to come out at the start of it, this move indicates MGM doesn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle. Furthermore, a Dec. 25 limited release speaks to the studio believing Hudson and the film can go all the way. Of course, “Respect” will be competing with Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” releasing a couple of weeks prior. However, just last year, Sam Mendes’ “1917” saw a similar roll-out and immediately became a major awards contender winning big at the Golden Globes. Whether or not “Respect” can carry that same weight remains to be seen, but this move is a confidence booster.

What do you all make of MGM pushing back “Respect?” Do you think Hudson and the film will come to play this awards season? Let us know in the comments below!