Delay of game for Clooney's 'Leatherheads'


Universal is extending the football season to April.

George Clooney's crush of other commitments has resulted in the studio's pushing the wide release of his 1920s pigskin pic "Leatherheads" to April 4, officials said Thursday.

Directed, co-written and toplined by Clooney, the romantic comedy involves the owner of a professional team who falls for the fiancee of one of his players. "Leatherheads" had been set for wide release Dec. 7.

"Due to (Clooney's) publicity schedule on Warner Bros.' 'Michael Clayton,' his concurrent shooting schedule on Focus Features' 'Burn After Reading' and his recent motorcycle injury, we have moved the release date of 'Leatherheads,' " a Uni spokeswoman said. "This will allow Clooney the time he needs to finish the film and for us to get maximum trailer play during the holiday period.

"Clayton" debuts today with exclusive engagements and likely Clooney promo stints, but the actor is hardly alone in his busy schedule of commitments. Top talent has been booked solid of late, thanks to studios' accelerating film production due to the threat of spring labor strife.

Meanwhile, "Leatherheads" lands on its new date with the aplomb of an offensive lineman hitting a mud puddle. It becomes the seventh pic set for wide release that weekend, though clearly one or more will be moved before then.

Squarely in the "not moving" category is Fox's Jodie Foster-Abigail Breslin fantasy "Nim's Island." Just last week, the studio nudged "Island" forward from April 25 to position the high-profile pic to play through a relatively light mid-April schedule.

New Line said its hanging tough for now with its comedy sequel "Harold & Kumar II," though release schedules always are fluid and lots can still happen.

"At this point in time, there's no reason to move the picture," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said.

Tuckerman said he sees little overlap between likely audiences for his comedy and the Clooney romancer.

Other wide openers set for April 4 include MGM's "Henry Poole Is Here," with Luke Wilson and Adriana Baraza; Paramount's lit-adaptation thriller "The Ruins"; the Djimon Hounsou starrer "Get Some," from Summit Entertainment; and Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones docu "Shine a Light" from Paramount Vantage. Even Uni has another pic set for wide release that weekend: the youthful romantic comedy "Wild Child," from Working Title.

Uni spokeswoman Stacy Ivers said execs haven't decided whether to move the Emma Roberts starrer "Child" to another date.

"It's too soon for us to say," Ivers said. "Watch this space."