Universal shuffles several releases

'Wolfman' won't bow until Feb. 12

Universal's embattled film execs Tuesday newly scheduled several films for release slots, but that potentially positive move came with a downbeat footnote: The studio also bounced "The Wolfman" out of the current fiscal year.

Universal said the "Wolfman" postponement -- to Feb. 12 from a previous Nov. 6 release date -- was due in part to visual effects work that's likely to stretch deep into the fall. That would prevent several key scenes from being available for the pic's marketing campaign, though a trailer from the Benicio Del Toro starrer is set to hit theaters Aug. 21.

"Wolfman" is now slotted for the four-day Presidents Day frame, which also features the Valentine's Day holiday on Feb. 14. Four other wide releases are also scheduled for the lucrative session: Disney's 3D rerelease of "Beauty and the Beast"; Summit Entertainment drama "Remember Me," starring Robert Pattinson ("Twilight"); Warner Bros.' romantic comedy "Valentine's Day," starring Jessica Biel and Bradley Cooper; and Fox's adventure fantasy "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief."

The move from fall to winter positions "Wolfman" to kick-start Universal's boxoffice season by giving the studio an early tentpole release. But the high-profile pic's delay also denies Uni's corporate parents GE and NBC Universal revenue from a potential hit in a boxoffice year that's seen the studio mired in market share mediocrity, with its most recent theatrical release "Bruno" underperforming and June tentpole "Land of the Lost" failing utterly.

Uni placed "The Fourth Kind" -- a modestly budgeted thriller recently acquired from Gold Circle Films -- into the Nov. 6 slot vacated by "Wolfman."

Uni gained another big first-quarter release by newly slotting for March 12 a CIA thriller tentatively titled "Green Zone," which reteams "Bourne Ultimatum" director Paul Greengrass and topliner Matt Damon. And the studio tagged its sci-fi thriller "Repo Men" -- formerly titled "The Reposession Mambo" -- as an unslotted first-quarter release.

In other moves, Rogue Pictures' comedy "MacGruber" is now set for release on April 16, and the Judd Apatow-produced laugher "Get Him to the Greek" is set for June 11. Uni marketing and distribution president Adam Fogelson said he was particularly pleased with slotting "Greek" on a date corresponding to the June launch pad for this summer's R-rated comedy blockbuster "The Hangover."

"We think we have a real winner of a movie," Fogelson said.

Another early summer tentpole -- Universal's Robin Hood adventure starring Russell Crowe -- remains slotted for May 14.
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