Martin- Murphy starrer gets some breathing room

Universal has pushed back the opening of Imagine Entertainment’s Steve Martin-Eddie Murphy starrer “Bowfinger” to Aug. 27 from July 30, to put some breathing room between its three late-summer comedies.

The Frank Oz-helmed pic was set to open just a week before U’s “Mystery Men,” which bows Aug. 6.

The studio didn’t have the option of releasing “Bowfinger” earlier in July, because its highly anticipated teen gross-out comedy “American Pie” is set for July 9.

The late August date is also somewhat less competitive: On July 30, “Bowfinger” would have faced off against Paramount’s Julia Roberts-Richard Gere starrer “Runaway Bride” as well as Warner Bros.’ shark actioner “Deep Blue Sea.”

On Aug. 27, the pic faces MGM’s “Stigmata” and New Line’s “The Astronaut’s Wife.”

The last two weekends in August, once considered a dumping ground for pics with scant earning potential, have become more desirable in recent years as they became the launching pad for such successful pics as “Natural Born Killers,” “The Crow” and “Money Talks.”

“We believe if you’ve got the goods people will come,” said Universal distribution prexy Nikki Rocco.

Early summer is shaping up nicely for U, which follows its $100 million-plus grosser “The Mummy” with Friday’s release of “Notting Hill.”

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