Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weird summer 2013 release date silliness leaves two summer events in the wrong slot. Why Jurassic Park 3D and Man of Steel should play musical chairs.

As somewhat expected, Universal announced today (via Jeff Snyder of Variety) that they would be releasing Jurassic Park in 3D next summer, in time for the film's 20th anniversary.  Fine, whatever, I'm sure it will look just as 'eye-poppingly' cool as The Phantom Menace did earlier this year (read - not at all from reliable sources).  The 20th anniversary of Jurassic Park is indeed somewhat of a milestone, as it was one of the last old-school blockbusters, a genuine word-of-mouth sensation that played in theaters for over a year and whose domestic and international dominance paved the way for the modern four-quadrant tentpole.  It was also the last notable hit film to actually play for longer than six months or so (Titanic played for around six months), as it came around just as the second run theater business was dying.  But this isn't about waxing nostalgic for Steven Spielberg's epic dinosaur horror adventure.  This is about the beyond weird release date.  The film is not opening on June 14th, 2013, which would approximate the 20th anniversary of its June 11th, 1993 theatrical debut (when it became the first film to score $50 million on its opening weekend).  Instead it's opening on July 19th, 2013.  So what's opening on June 14th, 2013?  Well Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, of course!  So let me get this straight.  Jurassic Park can't open on its actual 20th anniversary because that slot is taken with Warner Bros' Superman reboot.  So instead Universal is opening on an empty weekend that was once Warner Bros' prime summer opening weekend slot for six straight years.

On that weekend they debuted Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), The Dark Knight (2008), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), Inception (2010), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II (2011), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) to blockbuster results (I think we can safely count the upcoming release of Nolan's final Batman film as a 'blockbuster').  I've whined before about my confusion as to why Warner wouldn't slot their prime summer contender in their very best slot, especially after Pacific Rim fled to May 10th of that summer.  So now we have two major summer releases that are not only in the wrong release dates, but they are in fact sitting in each other's appropriate release date.  Dare we hope that sanity will prevail and that the studios will release their respective error and agree to trade?  After all, Jurassic Park 3D, if such a thing is required, should open as close to its actual 20th anniversary as it can, especially if such a date were available.  And I can see no reason why Warner Bros. would resist planting its major summer tent-pole in the same slot that has served them so well over the last six summers. What are your thoughts?  First of all, do you care one bit about a 3D theatrical release of Jurassic Park?  Am I the only one who A) can read a release calendar and B) wonders why studios often sabotage themselves with harmful release dates (cough-John Carter-cough)?  Share your thoughts below.

Scott Mendelson    


Liam_Ho said...

Not sure if you had brought this up in a previous article, very good chance you might have. But would it have anything to do with WB trying to revive mid June as being a prime summer release date. Which is what Burton's Batman films held. They even had Batman Begins released over this span, so maybe this reboot can follow the same success path. That's the only thing I can think of to explain this.

Scott Mendelson said...

Actually, I did talk about that when Man of Steel vacated its original December 2012 release slot way back in July ( But back then they had Pacific Rim slotted for July 12th, so at least they had an excuse. But once Pacific Rim moved to May and left the July 19th slot mostly empty, well, I figured it was merely an eventuality.

jesse said...

Though I do agree that it would make sense in this case to slot Superman into the Potter/Batman slot (especially since WB obviously wants Superman to become a franchise on that level again), your advice also points to something else that I find weird in release-date jockeying: the way studios are almost superstitious about choosing parallel release dates, in a way that makes it seem like they think audiences really remember or know or care that the parallelism is happening. John Carter is a good example of that, going out in March because that's where Disney had big success with Alice in Wonderland. But it sometimes gets even more weirdly specific, like how there was a Steve Carell movie at the end of July for several years running, or how big Will Ferrell comedies have been designated for the first two weeks of August, or how Ghost Rider 2 had to come out over President's Day weekend because that's when the first one came out, even if maybe a Halloweenier (or even January!) date could've made more sense.

Some of these decisions make sense enough, especially when direct sequels are involved, but sometimes it feels alarmingly literal-minded. In that sense, I'm glad that WB is doing Superman in June. It seems different this year with Snow White, Prometheus, and Abraham Lincoln, but for the last few years there was this weird stigma where May was mega-blockbusters, and then June you need to slow it down with comedies and smaller-scale counterprogramming, and then rev back up in July... when in some cases spreading that stuff out would've been smart.


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