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Double ‘Bill’ does the Oscar splits

Voters able to avoid film clash

Miramax has moved ahead on plans for its double “Bill.” The company will release the Quentin Tarantino-directed “Kill Bill: Volume Two” Feb. 20, 2004.

“Bill” was intended as one film, but the company decided on two separate releases rather than one three-hour film. “Volume One” goes out in October, and there was speculation both halves would be released this year.

Aside from marketing considerations, the split decision has awards implications. “Kill Bill: Volume One” is eligible for Oscars this year; “Volume Two” will be eligible next year.

The decision solves one Academy Awards conundrum: Oscar voters will no longer have to weigh two halves of a film that would have been competing for the same vote.

Oscar voters this year have also avoided another double-film clash, though this one had a different solution.

There are two Warner Bros.-Village Roadshow “Matrix” films being released this year. But only “Revolutions” is eligible for Oscar. WB did not submit “Matrix Reloaded” for Oscar consideration.

According to Academy rules, a film must be submitted within 60 days of its domestic release to qualify for any Academy Awards. That deadline has come and gone; after consulting with execs at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the studio quietly decided not to submit “Matrix Reloaded.” Execs didn’t want the two films to cannibalize each other in awards consideration.

It’s rare for a studio to withhold a high-profile film from Oscar consideration, but it’s entirely within Academy rules.

There are three considerations in splitting a film in half: aesthetic, marketing and awards. In terms of aesthetics, both companies see the two halves as one continuous film. But for awards considerations, that’s one film with a six-month intermission — in other words, nice theory, but it doesn’t fly.

Despite widespread rumors, both Acad and WB honchos said the studio never petitioned to have the two films considered as one.

There was similar speculation Miramax would try to get the two “Bill” halves considered as one film Again, a separate marketing campaign and a months-long split between the two releases ensures the two will be considered as separate films.

The decision by Miramax raises questions about the ancillary life of the two halves as well. For example, whether the two volumes will eventually be reunited on DVD.

It’s rare for two parts of a franchise to be released in the same calendar year. Exceptions include the 1933 “King Kong” and “Son of Kong.”

(Carl J. DiOrio contributed to this report.)