By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 23, 2013 at 2:07PM
Opening the week before "Man Of Steel," Louis Letterier's magic-themed heist actioner had been in search of a release date for a while; originally planned for a January 18th bow, it moved first to March, and then to the June date. That certainly seems to be a sign of bullishness from Summit, a hope that the film might be a slightly-adult skewing alternative to some of the other summer fare, rather than an indication of trouble. The question is whether the marketing campaign (which seems to be trying to suggest to audiences that it's a Christopher Nolan film, complete with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman) can make it a sleeper hit, or sees it buried by bigger competition.
Paramount had scheduled the film for June 29th, 2012, but director J.J. Abrams didn't commit to directing the film until well after he was done with "Super 8," and was worried about rushing in with an unfinished script. Eventually, Abrams signed on, but only on the condition that the film was pushed back a year, saying at the time, "What all of us were concerned about is the release date being the master we were serving. Nothing is more disheartening than something going in front of the camera before it's ready. The crew can feel it and the cast can feel it." It's an admirable approach, and one that we wish more people stuck to, even if it screwed up things for Paramount royally (they fast-tracked "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" to fill the gap, only to end up delaying that too and then they saw their other 2012 release "World War Z" fall apart -- see below).
Originally meant to open at the end of July, this is something of a no-brainer; aimed to give a bigger gap between the film and fellow Marvel picture "Iron Man 3," the delay lets it play out in November, where the blockbuster competition is thinner ("The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" follows two weeks later), and allowing it to play across both Thanksgiving and even Christmas. There's the slight risk in releasing a Marvel movie outside the summer (it's the first time that's happened), but given that it's riding the coattails of "The Avengers," the third most successful film in history, it should do just fine. For the record, the change was made a year before filming started, so there's no reason for concern here....
....whereas there certainly is reason for concern here. With shooting starting in the middle of 2010, "World War Z" was originally set for Christmas 2012, a slightly curious date, but perhaps less so when you take into account the success of "I Am Legend" in a similar slot five years earlier. One could dismiss the film's move to June 2013 as being due to a desire to get out of the way of a stacked Christmas season, but unlike some of the films that did the same ("Man Of Steel," "The Lone Ranger"), "World War Z" had no chance of being ready on time, due to well-publicized script problems, with Damon Lindelof, Drew Goddard and Christopher McQuarrie among the writers sought out and/or brought in to completely retool the film's third act, leading to extensive reshoots in the last few months of last year. That's always a serious warning sign (along with reports of clashes between Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster), and having to write a new ending when the beginning is already set in stone is most screenwriters' worst nightmare. Other films that have been in similar situations ("The Invasion" and "The Stepford Wives" are the ones that spring to mind) didn't work out well, so Paramount must be keeping their fingers crossed that it turns out more like "Men In Black 3," which had similar mid-production rewrites from multiple participants, and which turned out not only to be a big hit, but also a fairly decent movie.
So? Which one of these pictures are you in doubt about? Which ones do you think probably benefited from more work being spent on them? We're curious to hear your thoughts so sound off below.