'Dresses' up for the holiday


UPDATED 9:17 a.m. PT Jan. 4

Citing what it called an overwhelming response to sneak previews for "27 Dresses," Fox has shifted the national launch date of its Katherine Heigl comedy to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Moving the opening weekend from Jan. 11 to Jan. 18 gives Fox some leverage with the holiday-weekend boxoffice, and also allows it to get in one more day of nationwide sneak previews Jan. 13.

The comedy will go up against the J.J. Abrams produced sci-fi thriller "Cloverfield" from Paramount and the Callie Khouri-directed "Mad Money" from Overture Films.

Fox has employed a similar strategy in the past, releasing the female-skewing "The Devil Wears Prada" on the same weekend in 2006 that "Superman Returns" bowed.

The "27 Dresses" sneak previews played Dec. 27 to 539 theaters nationwide, including Fresno, Calif., Knoxville, Tenn., Los Angeles, Cleveland, Houston and Denver, with 27 of those previews featuring models wearing bridesmaid dresses adorned with the film's title and credits, a Fox representative said.

Many of the sneak previews were sold out and the rest were at least 75% full with audiences that were heavy female, across all demographics and ages, Fox said.

The film stars Heigl as Jane, a woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times and who re-examines her "always a bridesmaid" lifestyle when her younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) gets engaged to Jane's boss (Edward Burns). James Marsden also stars in the comedy, written by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada") and directed by Anne Fletcher ("Step Up").