“The Soloist,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxxfoxx.jpg and based on a series of L.A. Times columns, won’t be given a 2008 release, thus disqualifying it for the Oscars, according to several outletsdowney.jpg.

Sources say Viacom is under financial pressure and is unwilling to spend the cash to release the film, which has been discussed as a potential Oscar winner.

But it may be a moot point as the film was originally slated for a Nov. 21 release, but will now bow on March 13, 2009.

DreamWorks, which produced the film, had no comment, but insiders said execs are very disappointed by the move even though they concede it could benefit the film’s box office by distancing it from a crowded year-end field.

Directed by Joe Wright (“Atonement”), “Soloist” is based on a series of Los Angeles Times columns by Steve Lopez about a homeless schizophrenic musician’s dreams of playing at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Whenever a movie’s release date is changed in such a manner, there is a risk the media will read it as a vote of no-confidence. Still, it had generated strong buzz in early screenings.

However, it was not clear if “Soloist” might receive an Academy-qualifying run before Dec. 31, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

“We decided it’s a commercial movie that will play well in the spring, and we’ll give it an aggressive wide release then,” Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said.