Shotgun ‘Wedding’

In another last-minute summer schedule change, Sony Pictures Releasing has pushed up the release of its Julia Roberts starrer “My Best Friend’s Wedding” from June 27 to June 20.

The switch means the romantic comedy now opens on the same weekend as Warner Bros.’ “Batman and Robin.” The previous date had it facing off against Paramount’s John Travolta-Nicolas Cage actioner “Face/Off” and Buena Vista’s animated “Hercules.”

“We figured the earlier the better,” said Sony Pictures Releasing president Jeff Blake, adding, “The 27th was crowded. We’d rather go against one movie — even though it’s a big one — than two.”

Blake also noted that the star-driven romantic comedy would offer moviegoers a clear alternative to the fourth “Batman” installment.

He likened the counterprogramming approach to BV opening “Phenomenon” against action blockbuster “Independence Day” last year. “Phenomenon” bowed to $16.2 million, eventually levitating to $104.6 million.

“It’s a good idea,” acknowledged a rival distribution honcho. ” ‘Batman’ is playing to a whole different audience, there’s no competition.”

“Face/Off” was extremely well received during recent exhibitor screenings.

Other summer films whose dates have recently been shuffled include Buena Vista’s “Nothing to Lose,” which jumped from July 18 to July 11, and “George of the Jungle,” which swung from July 18 to Wednesday, July 16. Paramount has planted “Kiss Me Guido” on July 18.

However, two big questions still remain about the late summer schedule: Where will “Titanic” dock, and will it be Sony’s “Air Force One” or Warner Bros.’ “Conspiracy Theory” that moves off the July 18 weekend?

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