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'Fences' trailer: Will play adaptation draw Oscar nods, big box office?

A trailer has been released for the upcoming movie adaptation of the classic August Wilson play 'Fences.' Many critics are seeing the film as a possible Oscars contender. 

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A new trailer has been released for the upcoming film adaptation of the classic August Wilson play “Fences.” It’s a movie that features diversity in front of and behind the camera and could draw audiences because of its star, Denzel Washington. 

"Fences" is part of Mr. Wilson's 10-play cycle focusing on African-American experiences in Pittsburgh, Pa. throughout the 20th century. The play focuses on the family of Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball player now working for the city's sanitation department.

The cast of the film is mostly the same as that of the 2010 Broadway revival of “Fences,” with Mr. Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson, Stephen Henderson, and Russell Hornsby coming to the film adaptation from the Broadway play.

The play by Mr. Wilson, which first opened on Broadway in 1987, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. 

Many in the industry are seeing “Fences,” which is also directed by Washington, as a possible Oscars contender. If any of the cast members earned acting nominations for their work in the film, there would be more diversity in the Academy Award acting nominations than in the past two years, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated only white actors. 

“Fences” could become a box office hit as well, if Washington’s past work is any indication. The actor stars in the recent remake of “The Magnificent Seven,” which opened in theaters on Sept. 23. The film opened at number one, and some credited Washington’s name on the poster with encouraging moviegoers to turn up. 

“Movie stars don't open movies anymore? Tell that to Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks,” Jake Coyle wrote for the Associated Press, referencing the box office success of both “Magnificent” and the recent movie “Sully,” which stars Mr. Hanks. “…The ensemble of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ most notably includes Chris Pratt, the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ star and a potential heir apparent to Washington and Hanks. But Washington and Hanks ranked as the overwhelming reason audiences went to see either movie, according to comScore's survey of moviegoers.” 

Vulture writer Devon Ivie also credited Washington with some of the success of "Magnificent."

"What, you're really surprised that a Denzel Washington film debuted at the top of the box office this weekend?" Mr. Ivie wrote. "No, of course not."

If audiences are willing to follow Washington to a variety of films, perhaps they’ll turn up this December for “Fences” as well.

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