Paramount shuffle delays 'Trek'
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Dramatically underscoring the need for movie-side execs to review slates following the long writers strike, Paramount on Wednesday bounced six films to new dates and moved two unslotted films to next year's calendar.
Other distributors were scrambling to complete similar reviews of their upcoming productions to determine what can or can't be delivered on scheduled dates. In some cases, films will move because of talent issues, but many film projects have been frozen in time when script rewrites weren't completed before the 100-day scribe walkout.
"Star Trek" arguably was the biggest film moved, with the intended Christmas Day release now set for the first prime date in the following summer boxoffice season: May 8, 2009. But "Trek" appears something of an exception in the mix of itinerant pics, with its shift unrelated to script or cast considerations.
" 'Star Trek' is moving to summer because its has so much boxoffice potential," Par spokesman Michael Vollman said. "It does not need any script tweaks. They're two-thirds of the way through shooting, and we would have delivered a great movie at Christmas."
To compensate for the loss to Par's holiday 2008 schedule, the studio moved Brad Pitt-Cate Blanchett comedy "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" from Nov. 26 to Dec. 19.
Meanwhile, Par's moving the DreamWorks comedy "Tropic Thunder" off of July 11 has execs around town scrambling to see if they have a tentpole to set up on that sexy summer date. "Tropic," which stars Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr., has been reslotted for Aug. 15.
"July 11 could be up for grabs now," cheered one distribution exec, who said he might move an unspecified tentpole comedy into the open summer slot.
But distributors will have to choose carefully and base any moves to that date on counterprogramming opportunities. Rival pics still set for July 11 include Universal's presumed boxoffice behemoth "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" and New Line's 3-D adventure film "Journey to the Center of the Earth."
The Renee Zellweger suspenser "Case 39" -- yes, Par seems to have caught a case of pics with the word "case" in their titles -- has jumped to April 10, 2009, from Aug. 22 of this year. And "Nowhereland," an Eddie Murphy comedy previously set for Sept. 26, now will bow June 12, 2009.
Par added to its schedule an untitled Wayans brothers comedy, set for next Feb. 6. And "Shutter Island," a Martin Scorsese-directed Leonardo DiCaprio starrer, has landed on Oct. 2, 2009.
Also, Par said that Paramount Vantage is taking over distribution duties on "Revolutionary Road," a DiCaprio-Kate Winslet reteaming set for Dec. 19. The specialty unit's taking over from its major kin means the drama is likely to see a platformed rollout rather a wide opening.
Interestingly, distrib reaction to the Par moves included puzzlement over why Par hadn't gotten its Mike Myers comedy "The Love Guru" away from June 20 rival "Get Smart." The Steve Carell starrer is expected to be one of the biggest releases of the summer.