Calendar Watch for March 31, 2003

Can Rowan Atkinson find success outside of Mr. Bean? Universal Studios isn’t quite certain, having moved his new Bond spoof “Johnny English” around the 2003 release schedule a number of times. Having most recently been banished to the summer Siberia known as August, “English” gets a partial reprieve with its move to July 18, putting in into direct competition against two sequels, “Bad Boys II” and “Exorcist: The Beginning” in addition to the Mandy Moore dramedy “How to Deal.” This was one of  twenty six release date changes made last week.

The biggest move last week was Sony’s delay of “Spider-Man II” from May 7, 2004 to July 2, 2004, to help keep the soon to shoot sequel away from an accelerated (and thus, expensive) post-production schedule. Universal took advantage by moving up their Stephen Sommers-directed action adventurer “Van Helsing” two weeks to the vacated Spidey slot, away from “Mission: Impossible 3” and the Brad Pitt-starrer “Troy.” Look for one of these two, most likely the latter, to blink in the future and move to a later date.

Meg Ryan, whose “Against The Ropes” was delayed last week by Paramount, finds Sony moving her other 2003 film, “In The Cut” as well. Originally scheduled to open August 15, the Jane Campion-directed thriller, which saw its initial budget of $30M cut by almost 60% after Nicole Kidman left the project, is now penciled in for a fall release to be determined. Sony also moved their Jackie Chan supernatural action film “The Medallion” up one week, to October 17.

Fox made two moves this week, scheduling their Steve Martin/Bonnie Hunt comedy “Cheaper By The Dozen” for a Christmas Day release. Additionally, their Eliza Dushku teen horror thriller “Wrong Turn” is set to open May 30. Meanwhile, their Searchlight arm made three moves, moving the Alex Proyas-directed Aussie comedy “Garage Days” from June 13 to June 27, the Merchant-Ivory Parisian comedy “Le Divorce,” featuring Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson, back three weeks from July 16 to August 8, and scheduling Bernardo Bertolucci’s May 1968 Paris student riot drama “The Dreamers” for October 3.

Secondhand Lions,” New Line’s fantasy film featuring Haley Joel Osment, Michael Caine and Robert Duvall, finds itself moving from November to be determined to September 26. The project, whose screenplay received a mixed reaction from our own Chris Faile, was written and directed by Tim McCanlies, who previously directed the little seen “Dancer, Texas” and co-wrote the screenplay for “The Iron Giant.”

On the limited release front, the following moves were made:

Focus Features saw the most action of all distributors, with seven moves:

Tod Williams’ second feature, his adaptation of the first 183 pages of John Irving’s 1998 novel A Widow For One Year entitled “The Door In The Floor,” finds its release date on hold, as the distributors waits to see if Williams will be able to finish the film in time for it to be one of their Oscar hopes for 2003

Writer Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry, who last teamed on the painful “Human Nature,” will presumably see better results when their Jim Carrey/Kate Winslet starrer “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” opens on November 14

Dogme95 co-conspirer Thomas Vinterberg will see his $10M romantic sci-fi thriller “It’s All About Love,” which premiered at Sundance this year to mixed review, released sometime in 2003, date to be determined

Sofia Coppola’s second feature “Lost In Translation,” starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, will unspool in select markets beginning September 19

Neil LaBute’s adaptation of his stage play “The Shape Of Things” received a definite release date of May 9 in major markets

Francois Ozon’s first English language feature “Swimming Pool” will see a July 2 release in New York City and Los Angeles with expansions on July 11 and July 18
The currently untitled Sylvia Plath Project, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow and her box of accents as the famous suicidal author, opens on October 24

Up and coming distributor and exhibitor Magnolia double dipped into the release pool. Andrew Jarecki’s documentary “Capturing The Friedmans,” which shows the decline of one upper middle class Jewish family after the father and his youngest son are arrested for a series of horrific crimes, gets a release date of May 30 in New York and Los Angeles. Also, New Yorkers and Los Angelinos will get a second chance to judge Deepa Mehta’s Canadian spoof “Bollywood/Hollywood” beginning June 20.

New Yorker Films made two small move, holding their Mauritanian drama “Waiting For Happiness” an extra three days. Film will now unspool in New York this Saturday, April 5, instead of this Wednesday. Meanwhile, Pavel Lungin’s Russian drama “Tycoon,” about the rise of capitalism within the former communist state, moves back one week to May 7.

Newmarket, who has slowly become a major player on the indie scene since their creation for the release of “Memento” two years ago, decided to hold back the release of their Russian teen drama “Lilya” one week. Film will now unspool in New York and Los Angeles beginning April 18.

Karen Reno, a frequent collaborator of Lily Tomlin’s, finds her one-woman show about 9/11 entitled “Reno: Rebel Without A Pause” set for a May 2 exclusive release at the Cinema Village in New York. Directed by Nancy Savoca, who previously directed “True Love” and the brilliant River Phoenix/Lili Taylor “Dogfight,” film will be distributed by Seventh Art.

Strand, considered by many to be amongst the best of the micro-distributors, added two films to their 2003 schedule. Monica Stambrini’s Italian crime comedy “Gasoline” arrives on American shores June 27, while Eytan Fox’s Hebrew drama “Yossi And Jagger” begins September 24.