Roland Emmerich
Roland Emmerich, German director of the film ''Anonymous'' poses during the book fair in Frankfurt October 14, 2011. Reuters

Nine days before it was scheduled to release Anonymous to thousands of movie theaters across the country, Sony will begin the movie's run in only 250 theaters, TheWrap has confirmed.

Pre-release audience surveys for the Roland Emmerich Shakespeare drama have been soft. According to a report released by research firm NRG Monday, total awareness of the movie from its strongest moviegoer demo, women younger than 25, is only 37 percent.

We believe a gradual rollout is the best way for audiences to discover, embrace and champion the movie through the holiday season, an individual close to the project told TheWrap.

In Emmerich's provocative period drama, the Earl of Oxford, rather than the actor William Shakespeare, actually wrote the plays attributed to the Bard.

Rhys Ifans stars as the Earl of Oxford. Vanessa Redgrave stars as Queen Elizabeth I. Rafe Spall plays Shakespeare and Jamie Campbell Bower is the young Earl of Oxford.

With Anonymous out of the October 28 mix, three movies open wide that weekend: Fox's sci-fi In Time, which stars Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde and Alex Pettyfer; DreamWorks' animated Puss in Boots and FilmDistrict's adventure The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart and Giovanni Ribisi.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the news.