'Spirit' moves up release

Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson star in the film

Lionsgate has moved up the nationwide release of its comic adaptation "The Spirit" -- written and directed by Frank Miller -- to Dec. 25.

The film, based on the comic book series created by the late Will Eisner, was originally slated to open Jan. 16, 2009.

Also slated to open on Dec. 25 are Disney's "Bedtime Stories" and Fox 2000 Pictures' "Marley & Me."

Of the move, Lionsgate president of theatrical films Tom Ortenberg said: "Comic-Con fans (in New York in March) resoundingly confirmed what we felt in our bones about 'The Spirit': this is a great film and an irresistible piece of entertainment. ... For all of us, it was an easy decision."

"The Spirit" stars Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Stana Katic, Dan Lauria, Jaime King, Paz Vega and Louis Lombardi. Odd Lot Entertainment and Lionsgate are production partners.

International release dates have not yet been announced. Sony Pictures Releasing International is handling distribution in many European territories and Latin America. Odd Lot International is distributing to the rest of the world, except for the U.K. and Australia, where the film is being released by Lionsgate.
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