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Universal Drops Patrick Wilson Movie 'Stretch' on Eve of Theatrical Release (Exclusive)

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The Jason Blum-produced comedy-thriller will not hit theaters March 21 as planned after Blum tried and failed to find another buyer.

In a rare setback for Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions, Universal Pictures has scrapped plans to release the Patrick Wilson comedy-thriller Stretch theatrically in March, and the producer has made an unsuccessful effort to find another distributor for the film.

Stretch, directed by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, The Grey) on a budget under $5 million, was set to be released March 21 in the U.S. But that has been canceled, according to sources, and Blum, who has a rich first-look development deal with Universal, was permitted to shop the film to other distributors. Having failed to strike a deal, the film now has reverted to Universal, where a source says the studio and filmmakers will explore "creative" options for releasing it. Blum's low-cost model allows for such decisions when it appears that the expense of releasing a movie theatrically might not be justified by the returns.

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A Universal spokesperson declined to comment on when or whether Stretch will get a theatrical release. Blum also declined to comment.

In Stretch, Wilson plays a chauffeur who picks up a difficult and devious billionaire, played in a cameo by Chris Pine. As the night goes on, their interaction leads to dangerous encounters. Jessica Alba, Brooklyn Decker, Ed Helms and Ray Liotta also appear in the film.

Blum, the high-flying producer of low-budget horror megahits like Paranormal Activity and Insidious, signed a big first-look deal with Universal in 2011. The first Blumhouse picture for Universal, The Purge, was released in June and grossed $89 million worldwide. A sequel is in the works and has been dated for June.  

A source says that Universal executives concluded it would be unwise to spend the $20 million to $40 million that it would take to release Stretch theatrically. Part of the appeal of Blum's low-budget model is that the films don't necessarily need a significant theatrical release to turn a profit. "There are a lot of advantages to low-budget movies besides creative freedom," Blum said in a KCRW radio interview in September. "Another advantage is we don't have to go wide with the movies."

Email: Kim.Masters@THR.com
Twitter: @KimMasters