Uni advances 'Charlie' release


"Charlie Wilson's War" will take to the boxoffice battlefield a few days earlier than originally scheduled. Universal announced Friday that the movie, in which Tom Hanks plays a Texas congressman who becomes involve in covert activities in Afghanistan, will open in a wide release of more than 2,000 theaters on Friday, Dec. 21, rather than waiting until Tuesday, Dec. 25 to storm movie theaters.

"On top of the quality and pedigree of the film, people are really enjoying the movie, and so when you have a movie that is so satisfying to audiences, there's no reason not to take advantage of those extra three-and-only half boxoffice days to establish the film," Adam Fogelson, Universal president of marking and distribution, said.

In moving up four days, "Charlie" will face off against a crowded field that, as currently scheduled, includes the wide releases of Disney's action/adventure tale "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," Warners' romance "P.S. I Love You," DreamWorks/Paramount's musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" and Sony's comedy "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story."

And while Charlie has moved off Christmas Day, that Tuesday will also mark the opening of Fox's "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem," MGM/Weinstein Co.'s "The Great Debaters" and Sony's "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep."

"The whole corridor is crowded, but I think whatever movies have strength coming out of the 21st are going to continue to play strong on Christmas Day and beyond," Fogelson said.

Christmas and New Year's have not both fallen on a Tuesday since 2001 -- and before that, the last time the calender played out that way was 1990 -- so the industry does not have much experience with this particular holiday configuration. But potentially it could add up to two, five-day movie-going weekends in a row, with school holidays contributing to mid-week ticket sales between the two holidays.

Directed by Mike Nichols and written by Aaron Sorkin, "Charlie" stars Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hanks and Gary Goetzman produced the film with Celia Costas, Ryan Kavanaugh and Jeff Skoll serving as exec producers.