The Aviator: Miramax Films and Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Miramax will handle U.S. theatrical distribution of Initial Entertainment Group's The Aviator, Martin Scorsese's epic Howard Hughes biopic. The release date is currently set for December 17, 2004. The announcement was made by Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures president of domestic distribution, and Rick Sands, Miramax chief operating officer.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Miramax will retain their financial partnership agreement on the film, which is A Forward Pass Inc./ Initial Entertainment Group production. Warner Bros. Pictures will retain theatrical distribution in Canada and will distribute the film on home video/DVD, with Miramax controlling all U.S. television rights. In addition to the U.S., Miramax will distribute the film in the U.K., France, Italy and Germany, while Initial Entertainment Group will distribute "The Aviator" in the remaining territories around the globe.

The Aviator is directed by Martin Scorsese and written by John Logan; the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is produced by Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, and Charles Evans Jr. Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin and Jude Law also star.

Fellman said: "Since our fourth quarter is already committed to four high-profile movies this year, we felt that it is in the best interests of The Aviator to transfer its domestic release to our partners at Miramax. Both studios have the highest respect for Martin Scorsese and want this exceptional movie to have all the attention and success it deserves; we believe we've found a way to do that with our new arrangement."

Sands stated, "After the success of Gangs of New York, Miramax is honored to have the opportunity to work once again with Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Initial's Graham King. The Aviator represents the caliber of film that Miramax has successfully marketed and distributed, and we look forward to releasing this highly anticipated film."

The Aviator tells the story of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes (DiCaprio), the eccentric billionaire industrialist and Hollywood film mogul, famous for romancing some of the world's most beautiful women. The drama recounts the years of his life from the late 1920s though the 1940s, an epoch when Hughes was directing and producing Hollywood movies and test flying innovative aircraft he designed and created.

The featured cast includes Matt Ross (Down with Love, American Psycho), Adam Scott (TV's Six Feet Under), Danny Huston (Birth), Alan Alda (What Women Want, TV's M*A*S*H), Ian Holm (The Lord of the Rings, The Sweet Hereafter), Kelli Garner (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) and No Doubt's Gwen Stefani.