Thursday, September 10, 2009

Film Release Date Changes: Bad Film or Bad Economy?

Occasionally highly anticipated films are pushed back (delayed), much to the chagrin of film fans. Those who are more cynical see these moves as a sign that the film in question is not testing well among test audiences, is of poor quality, or that the studio simply does not know what to do with it. Much of the time, it is simply a financial move. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince went from a November 2008 release to a July 2009 release. Warner Brothers had a huge financial success with The Dark Knight in 2008, therefore affording them the chance to delay the film, so further final touches could be made on it, and enabling them to make more money in the 2009 summer movie market. This move was a good one for Warner Brothers (though I was greatly angered when I heard the news last year), as HPB has made over 279 million dollars as of September 9th, 2009.

Shutter Island is a Paramount Pictures film that was supposed to be released on October 2nd, 2009. Instead it has been delayed until February 19th, 2010. Paramount has blamed the bad economy, among other things. But why did they pick February 2010? February is generally the studios’ dumping ground for poor quality films. Does this mean Shutter Island is set to disappoint? Darkhorizons states that it has been testing well, but I still remain skeptical. Martin Scorsese is a well known and very well respected filmmaker. Especially after his Best Director win for The Departed, his film deserves more respect than a February opening will give it. I’m thinking that Paramount simply does not understand the film, thinks it will not perform well, and wants to release where it will be quickly forgotten.

Another highly anticipated film, The Wolfman has been delayed multiple times. It was originally supposed to open in late 2008, then February 2009 (again, a bad sign), then April 2009, then it was announced that it would be released in November 2009 so there would be more time to promote the film. Finally, in July 2009 it was announced that it would be delayed again, for February 12, 2010. The Wolfman has undergone extensive re-shoots , which does not seem to be a good sign at all, at least to me. We shall see in February whether The Wolfman was worth the long wait, I am hoping it will be.

One more example of a long delay is with Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are. Originally supposed to be released in 2008, mixed reactions, particularly the film being "too scary", lead to rumours of the film being scrapped and re-shot from the ground up. Thankfully, this rumour didn't pan out, Warner Brothers gave out more money for the project so more work could be done, and the current release date of October 16, 2009 was set.

Now, I'm extremely excited for Where the Wild Things Are. I loved the book as a child, and was devastated when I heard the rumour that the film was potentially going to be scrapped. I'll even admit that under the right circumstances, the trailer brings tears to my eyes. The combination of the song in the trailer (the very powerful Wake Up by the Arcade Fire), the clips shown, and the text between the clips is enough to move me very much. Watching the trailer again for this entry did actually make me cry. So, needless to say, I shall be sitting in the theatre watching this film on or shortly after October 16th.


  1. I think 300, as the most recent example, proved that you can still do good business in February and March, especially in the current climate, where movies in general have been doing really well. If you drop a Wolfman or a Shutter Island in there, with no real competition on the horizon, it just might add a few million more to the movie's profit. So it's probably more a business decision than a art-based one.

  2. That is a very good point. 300 did do very well and from what I remember, wasn't a bad movie either. The Wolfman, from the trailer, seems like it would attract the same audience that 300 did, so Universal could very well be thinking that it could be the next 300. As for Shutter Island...I really think it should have been kept at its original release date.

  3. Yeah, the Shutter Island shift is really odd. Scorsese plus DiCaprio is an automatic Oscar consideration, and Zodiac proved that even a good movie released during that time gets forgotten. I have a suspicion it'll get pushed back again, to July or August, where it can do well financially and get Oscar consideration.

  4. Yeah, I can definitely see Shutter Island being pushed back further. February just doesn't work for it, especially since its demographic is orientated more at adult "professionals" who don't necessarily have the time to see a film during the beginning of the year. During the summer most people have a bit more time. And like you said, Leo is such Oscar bait, everything he does seems to at least get some consideration and I thought for sure he'd get a nomination...if it was being released in October.

  5. Hey Jen! Nice... touched a couple of topics I'd like to discuss... hard to believe, it actually didn't dawn on me that pushing movie releases had to do with the economic recession -- but that's the reality we face today. Hey, ever heard of the movie White Out? I heard Kate Beckinsale's supposed to be in it? - Shot in the North, supposed to be a real scary movie as well. Any info? I also heard some buzz about Shutter Island..? Tell me about it :)

  6. I don't know a lot about White Out, I first learned about it last week when I saw the trailer in front of District 9. To me it looked like a sort of horror movie, perhaps with supernatural elements. I did a bit of looking after that and found out parts of it were filmed here in Manitoba. I learned most from the review Randall King posted in yesterday's paper ( ), apparently it was based on a graphic novel, and is a bit of a murder mystery.

    As for Shutter Island, it's based on the novel by Dennis Lehane ( To me, it looks a bit like a horror/thriller, but I spoke with someone at one point who has read the book, and they said that it is not supposed to be a horror movie. Martin Scorsese and the screenwriter could have changed the tone of the story, or it is possible that the studio cut the trailer to make it look like a horror movie, in hopes of bringing in that audience. I'm leaning toward the latter myself, studios do that so much, then you go to see the movie, and it's very different from what you expected it to be.