Release dates are pretty crucial to a film's success. Put your prize tentpole up against another film aiming for the same audience, and you'll cannibalize each other. Place your movie in exactly the right place on the calendar, and you'll find yourselves with a license to print money. And that's why studios will claim release slots and continue to tinker with them, both years in advance and with only months to spare.
And it looks like Paramount have been examining their release schedule in a big way, with the announcement, via Box Office Mojo, of three high-profile shifts in one evening. Perhaps the biggest is "World War Z," the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of Max Brooks' novel about a zombie apocalypse, which has become a tentpole picture starring and produced by Brad Pitt. The film was originally set to open on December 21, 2012, but the studio have pushed the release back by exactly six months, and it'll now open on June 21, 2013, head-to-head with Pixar's "Monsters University."
It's an understandable move, frankly: the Christmas competition this year is bound to be tough, with "The Hobbit," "Les Miserables," "Life Of Pi," "This Is Forty," Kathryn Biglelow's Bin Laden movie, "Django Unchained" and "The Great Gatsby" all meant to open a week before or after the original slot for "World War Z," a dark zombie flick which doesn't exactly scream holiday spirit (although it's worth noting that "I Am Legend" made $600 million worldwide back in December 2007). While Forster's film now has to contend with Pixar on the same release date (and Superman reboot "Man of Steel" the week before), it should have a very different demographic, and at least gets a little breathing room now, particularly as it has little awards hope.
But Paramount aren't letting that prime December 21st slot lay idle, as the studio have pushed up "One Shot" from its original date of February 8, 2012. The Christopher McQuarrie film, based on Lee Child's novel and starring Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, also stars Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, David Oyewolo, Richard Jenkins, Jai Courtney, Michael Raymond-James and, of all people, Werner Herzog as the villain. It doesn't seem like obvious Christmas fare, but the studio are obviously feeling bullish about what they've seen so far, presumably aided by the spectacular performance of their release last December of Cruise's "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol."
The company had one other big deal in the works, as they've announced that their live-action/CGI reboot of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," to be directed by "Battle: Los Angeles" and "Wrath Of The Titans" helmer Jonathan Liebesman, will hit theaters on Christmas Day in 2013. We'd not heard much on the project for a while, and had started to hope it was all an elaborate joke, but now it has such a key release date that we have to assume it's a big deal for the company; currently, the only other films scheduled for December 2013 are "The Hobbit: There And Back Again," and animation "Cloudy 2: Revenge Of The Leftovers," although we're sure those weeks will fill up before too long. We'd expect to see some casting news on Liebesman's film soon, given he's got 20 months or so to get it into theaters.