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SONY PITCHES ‘NET’ AGAINST ‘WATERWORLD’

Sony is hoping to enjoy a refreshing swim without taking a bath for its recent switch of the Sandra Bullock starrer “The Net” at Columbia Pictures to a July 28 release, pitting it directly against Universal’s “Waterworld.”

Sony distrib chief Jeff Blake says he’s not worried about any aquatic maneuvers from U, which is anticipating a big splash from the most expensive film ever, which cost upwards of $180 million.

“That weekend is always big, always a $100 million-plus weekend,” Blake says. “We just figure we can get our piece of that weekend.”

Blake points to last year’s performance on the same busy July weekend of $105 million for such pics as “The Mask” ($23.1 million in its bow), “Forrest Gump” ($18.2 million in week four) and “True Lies” ($13.7 million in the third week).

Blake was more concerned about the original Aug. 4 weekend opening date because “The Net” was up against Julia Roberts’ “Something to Talk About,” which would battle for women viewers, and Paramount’s “Virtuosity,” a pic that might take away some of the high-tech aud.

But ColPix execs are ecstatic over boffo tests and research screenings for “The Net.” Even with the weekend switch, they’re eager to see the match-up against Roberts.

Either way, veteran producer Irwin Winkler is particularly sanguine about the pic’s prospects against the Kevin Costner opus.

“Ours is a $22 million film and we’re going up against the most expensive film ever made,” says Winkler. “We could get drowned in the water, but then again we might swim to the surface.”

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