Studios Map Out UK Theatrical Release Plans to Counter Olympic Challenge

Warner Bros.
The Dark Knight Rises

The European Soccer Championships and Wimbledon tennis are also in the mix for eyeballs.

LONDON -- U.K. distributors are steeling themselves to face down a perfect storm of sporting entertainment this summer, including the European Soccer Championships, Wimbledon tennis tournament and the London 2012 Olympics.

But the Film Distributors Association, whose members include all the major studio overseas' outposts and account for more than 97 percent of all titles released in the U.K., said there are several high-profile rollouts scheduled during and around the events.

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It is the Olympics and how to counter-program what organizers describe as the greatest show on Earth that is the biggest concern. The choice for counter-programming are documentaries, comedies and art house releases.

Warner Bros. is planning to unleash The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 in what will be the final build up to the London 2012 Olympics.

And on July 27, Universal is planning the British rollout for its family adventure The Lorax, already a U.S. box office hit, on the day of the Games' opening ceremony.

On August 2, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox is backing the launch of Timur Bekmambetov's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, followed on August 3 by Paramount's G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Ted, Universal's adult comedy from Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy.

The FDA also noted Step Up 4: Miami Heat 3D and The Wedding Video, a British comedy distributed by indie player Entertainment on August 10 should also fill auditorium seats here.

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Once the Olympics draw to a close, The Bourne Legacy and Jeremy Renner's tilt at international stardom will also begin on August 17.

The European Soccer Championships runs June 8 to July 1, Wimbledon serves up from June 25 to July 8  to  and the London 2012 Games starts July 27 until August 12.

In addition to the tentpole and franchise entries, there will be counter-programming and potential break-out titles, such as El Bulli, Al WeiWei: Never Sorry and Revenge of the Electric Car trying to boost admissions and boxoffice revenues.

The FDA said more than 160 titles will be released in the four-month season from May to August, during which the FDA is projecting around 60 million cinema visits, equivalent to one visit per person in the U.K. population.

FDA president David Puttnam said: “We in Britain are heading into what promises to be a truly exceptional summer, during which the power of media and spectacle to bring people together will never have been more apparent. The cinema is incredibly well placed to capitalize on the feel-good spirit The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics are bound to generate – the line-up of summer movie entertainment is packed with triumph over adversity, love and longing, grandeur and humor."

Marvel Avengers Assemble, launched the summer season this week after a European premiere in London last week and coming soon to UK screens is The Amazing Spider-Manpitting Andrew Garfield new in the title role against Rhys Ifans as The Lizard.