Any publicity expert will tell you that if you need to announce bad news, the best day to do it is when no one is paying attention. That’s often why Hollywood studios and networks time cancellations, firings, er, “transitions” and negative news late Friday afternoon or evening Los Angeles time. East Coast media and investors are out partying the night away and their West Coast equivalents are likely on their way out of the office. It’s no surprise then, that Universal Pictures revealed some big release date changes on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving when most people are traveling home for the holiday weekend.
The news primarily focused on three pictures produced and financed by Legendary Pictures. In a somewhat odd move, the “Untitled Michael Mann Project” has been dated for January 16, 2015. The thriller stars Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis, but most studios don’t but super-quality films on Martin Luther King Day weekend. It’s not a “dump date” per se, but if it has any awards potential (Mann always has to be considered) you would open before Jan. 1. Granted, Mann may still be in the editing room and this date could change or it could open limited in Dec. Of course, Universal has it’s own war drama “Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie, opening on Christmas Day, 2014 which would be an audience demo conflict for the Comcast division. Legendary may soon be learning the grass isn’t always as greener outside of Warner Bros, its former home.
More eye-brow raising is the fact Universal has pushed Legendary’s “The Seventh Son” to Feb. 6, 2015. The fantasy adventure “Son” stars Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore. It was already featured on a panel at last year’s Comic-Con and will now be released over seven months after the next Comic-Con. It has had posters and a complete trailer already in theaters. Warner Bros. had originally scheduled it for release in Oct. of this year and then pushed to Jan. 2014. It now is hitting theaters 16 months after its first “real” release date (it was dated on Feb. 22, 2013 at one point, but that was not realistic). Does this raise red flags about the movie itself.? You bet it does.
On the disappointing side, fans of World of Warcraft are going to have to wait bit longer for Legendary’s “Warcraft.” The Duncan Jones directed video game adaption will now open on March 11, 2016 which safely movies it out of “Star Wars Episode VII’s” way. Legendary showed concept footage for “Warcraft” at last year’s Comic-Con.
As for Universal proper, the studio put a date on its latest reboot of “The Mummy.” Director Andy Muschietti’s vision of the classic horror character will now hit theaters on April 22, 2016. It’s worth noting the first two blockbuster “Mummy” movies from the most recent version of the franchise both opened in the first week of May, very close to this new date. The third one underperformed when given an August, 2008 release (it didn’t help the movie wasn’t very good either).
Lastly, Rob Cohen’s thriller “The Boy Next Door,” starring Jennifer Lopez, is now slated for Jan. 23, 2015. And, yes, that’s pretty close to a dump date. Hopefully the helmer behind “Alex Cross,” “Stealth” and, oh yeah, the bad “Mummy” movie will prove us wrong.