Calendar Watch: Third "Harry Potter" film gets a release date

In a continuing, albeit sporadic, feature on the site, we at FilmJerk.com will be bringing you a list of new release dates announced by the studios each week. This edition of Calendar Watch looks at the new dates set for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star,” “Mystic River,” “Exorcist: The Beginning” and “The Big Bounce.”

The Big News
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” Conjures a June 4, 2004, Opening: In perhaps the biggest scheduling news this week, the third Harry Potter film has made public its opening date, that of June 4, 2004. This has been the date listed at CountingDown.com for the last two months, but the studio makes it official. The film focuses on the 13-year-old’s summer before his third year. It is also the first to feature director Alfonso Cuaron’s work on the franchise. There is still a chance that “Azkaban” could move forward a weekend (May 28) to give it some room between itself and “Shrek 2,” which is scheduled to open on June 18. It’ll be interesting to see how “Potter” does in the summer frame, rather than the winter months.

As it currently stands, June 2004 is going to be a great month for discount ticket prices. But look for 20th Century Fox to move “Garfield,” currently listed as a June 4 opening as well, to another summer weekend — either earlier in May or to the July timeframe. As the schedule stands now, though, there is going to be a great deal of competition between films for children’s attention this next summer — with “Garfield” likely to be the third choice among audiences that month. Between “Potter” and “Shrek,” I’m giving odds for “Potter” to do the better of the two.

Also in 2003
After Moving Around the Schedule, “Envy” Gets an Unenviable Release Date in August: Originally slated to open next weekend, this film has seen several switches before now settling on an August 15 release. Its competition that weekend include “Freddy vs. Jason,” Jackie Chan’s “The Medallion,” Kevin Costner’s “Open Range” and Brittany Murphy’s “Uptown Girls.” The comedy, starring Jack Black and Ben Stiller, focuses on two life-long friends and neighbors. When one of them becomes rich, the other finds himself crazy with envy.

A “Former Child Star” Looks for Salvation in September: The David Spade comedy “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star” moves up from an October 3 release to September 5. Focusing on a 35 year-old trying to re-ignite his film career, Spade-cum-Roberts sets his sights on a comeback role as an “everyday guy.” In preparation for his role and in realizing that he never had an “everyday life,” he decides to hire a family so he can feel what that’s like. Probably worth noting here that Spade’s last starring effort only managed to grab $27 million at the box office and NBC’s “Just Shoot Me,” which he co-starred in, was yanked from the schedule in April. Film parodying real lifer

Two Week “Bounce” for Elmore Leonard Adaptation: “The Big Bounce” moves up two weeks to September 12 in order to steer clear of another Hawaiian-shot film, Dwayne “The Rock” Jackson’s “Welcome to the Jungle.” “Bounce,” based on Elmore Leonard’s novel, is about a drifter who comes into shenanigans with a businessman and his mistress. Read our script review of “The Big Bounce”.

“Mystic River” Travels Upstream to September: Debuting tomorrow at Cannes, the Clint Eastwood-directed film is a big beneficiary of advance buzz. In order to parlay that, as well as move to a less-crowded release date, the adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel has moved up to September 19. The film’s plot focuses on three childhood friends who are reunited in Boston when they become linked together in a murder investigation.

A 10/10 Opening for “The Whole Ten Yards,” The Circle is Complete: The Bruce Willis/Matthew Perry comedy, a sequel to “The Whole Nine Yards,” settles on a October 10 release date (yes, that’s 10/10— nice move). It had originally been slated to open a week later. Although the plot of the film has not yet been announced, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet and Kevin Pollack all return.

Limited Releases: “Lucia Lucia” which focuses on a woman trying to cope with the recent disappearance of her husband, moves back two weeks to open on July 25, while Audrey Tautou’s “Dirty Pretty Things” moves up to a New York/Los Angeles opening on July 18. “The Magdalene Sisters” moves to an August 1 opening for New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, then expands to the top 10 markets on August 15 and the top 20 a week later. “Party Monster,” which focuses on the life of Manhattan nightclub promoter Michael Alig and starring Macaulay Culkin, settles on a September 5 opening in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. David Mamet’s “Spartan,” starring Val Kilmer, gets a limited opening on Christmas Day, with the possibility of going wider in 2004.

In 2004
Shifting Gears Yet Again, “Torque” Moves to January 2004: Getting a release date almost a year after it was to originally appear on screens, “Torque” gets a January 16 opening—not a good omen for the film’s quality. This is the fifth release date change for the film (including one miscommunication by the studio) and was intended to be the second film to feature motorcycle racing– the first was “Biker Boyz,” which had a lukewarm reception at the box office. As we reported in late April, “Torque” recently did some reshoots.

New “Exorcist” Film Crawls to a February Opening: The question of “Will it open this summer or not” has been answered: “Exorcist: The Beginning” is moving to a February 6 opening, after originally being penciled in for a July 18 release. Probably a good move by the studio for the fourth in the series of horror films that started with “The Exorcist” in 1973. This new film will focus on Father Merrin (played by Max Von Sydow in the original and Stellen Skarsgaard here) and his journey as a young missionary priest to post-World War II Africa, where he had his first encounter with demonic forces.

Huggy Bear in Tow, “Starsky & Hutch” Set for February 2004: Filming just started six weeks ago, but Warner Bros. has set a date for the two TV detectives to make their mark on the big screen. The film, which shows the character’s origins and set in the 1970’s, has them teaming up against a businessman with a side cocaine business. Looking forward to this one, as it has a great cast of Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Snoop Dogg.

Yu-Gi-Oh Slated for 2004: The cartoon character is set for a 2004 release, date unknown. Based on the popular TV series, the film’s story follows the adventures of Yugi and his friends as they play a card-battling game called Duel Monsters.

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