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Scheduling the release of a summer movie isn t
exactly a science. It clearly isn t an art, either. It s
more akin to a contact sport.
Seize the advantageous position, sustain as little
damage as possible, and score.
All of which makes this weekend s opening of both
Red 2 and R.I.P.D. a little like sacking your own quar-
terback. Both films are action-thrillers. Both are
about over-age law enforcers (in R.I.P.D., some are
so old, they re dead). And both make a virtue of their,
shall we say, mature stars.
Those stars include Bruce Willis (58), Anthony
Hopkins (75), John Malkovich (59) and Helen Mirren
(67) in Red 2 and Jeff Bridges (63) and Kevin Bacon
(55) in R.I.P.D., which, by the way, stands for Rest
in Peace Department.
It may not make a huge difference at the box office,
but both films also feature the less-than-prolific
Mary-Louise Parker, who has a solid base among
discriminating male viewers but is better known for
her work in cable TV s Weeds.
Add to all this the fact that Robert Schwentke, the
director of Universal s R.I.P.D., had directed the
original Red of 2010 from Summit Entertainment
and for whatever reason (Schwentke didn t want to
talk about it) lost the sequel to director Dean Parisot.
Assuming there s no ill will involved, that s a lot
of coincidence, said distribution consultant Richard
Abramowitz, who teaches film production at New
York University and runs the film company Abramora-
ma. It seems like too big a mistake to be a mistake.
But the Red 2/R.I.P.D. collision may simply be a
symptom of the state of Hollywood. There have been
very few weekends since May that haven t been dom-
inated by a big-budget, major-studio release---a so-
called tent-pole picture. There was Iron Man 3 on
May 2, The Great Gatsby on May 10, Star Trek Into
Darkness on May 15, Fast & Furious 6 on May 24,
After Earth on May 31 and so on.
Tellingly, when studios chose to expand a debut
weekend with a weekday opening---Iron Man 3 was
on a Thursday; Star Trek was on a Wednesday---a
rash of movies seemed to rush in to fill the Friday
void. In fact, the Fridays following IM3 and STID
were among the more crowded of the summer, with
15 and 11 openings, respectively.
But the idea that studios have that kind of flexibility
in picking a release date is really a fallacy: Releases
are set as early as possible, sometimes even during
pre-production, and when a film of a certain stature
grabs a date, everyone else starts jockeying for posi-
And there are only so many positions.
Where were they going to go? asked Greg Laemmle,
of the eponymous Los Angeles-based theatre chain,
referring to Red 2 and R.I.P.D.
You ve got Pacific Rim on July 11, Wolverine in
July 26. It may well be there was no place else to go,
and there s so much in the pipeline that they d be
pushed right out of the summer, Laemmle said.
So if the studios behind Reds 2 and R.I.P.D. were
trying to put their movies into the summer season,
this was probably the first weekend they could find
without a gigantic, globally recognised title in place.
R.I.P.D. had already announced a July 19 release
when Summit parent Lionsgate decided to move Red
2 onto that same date, said Universal spokeswoman
Kori Bernards. You ll have to ask them what that was
Lionsgate had no comment for this story, but insid-
ers say both Lionsgate and Universal seem to have
realised their movies had a better chance against
each other, despite having to share the same older
audience, than against a summer blockbuster like
next weekend s Wolverine, for instance. And neither
• Continues on Page B6
jostle for box
This image released
Pictures shows Jeff
Bridges, left, and
Ryan Reynolds in a
scene from R.I.P.D.
The film will be
released in the US
today. AP PHOTO
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