It's planting season

Warners, Uni tweak skeds as summer nears

Film distributors continue to jockey for position just weeks before the start of the summer boxoffice season.

In the latest maneuvers, Warner Bros. has moved up "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to a midweek domestic bow July 15, and Universal has slipped another wide opener into summer's final month with an Aug. 14 slotting for the horror thriller "A Perfect Getaway."

Warners initially had the latest Potter sequel unspooling last November before postponing until July 17. The latest move, to a Wednesday, is in keeping with the studio's pattern with Potter pics that debut in the summer.

"We just wanted to wait to get a look at the competitive environment before doing it," Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said Wednesday. "But the last one opened up to $44 million on a Wednesday, so there's certainly no reason not to do it this time."

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" opened in July 2007 and grossed $77.1 million during its first five days, ringing up $292 million overall domestically.

"Getaway," which had been unscheduled, is set to compete against four mid-August wide openers: Warners' "The Time Traveler's Wife," Sony's "District 9," Summit Entertainment's "Bandslam" and Paramount Vantage's "The Goods: The Don Ready Story."

Universal distribution chief Nikki Rocco said the rival openers target different audiences and aren't a concern. "We like having an action thriller in that corridor," she said. (partialdiff)