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Inside Move: ‘X’ marks slot for ’02 shot

Billboards already up touting next Diesel pic

A year passes quickly in the movie biz. Still, Sony-based Revolution Studios is way ahead of the curve in touting “Triple X,” whose July 26 release is nearly 47 weeks away.

Summer 2001 had not even officially ended before “X” billboards went up, including a giant building-side banner in Hollywood at the corner of Highland and Santa Monica boulevards.

Early ads are nothing new. “Wild Wild West,” to pick one recent example, was plugged a year ahead of its 1999 release, using artistic renderings to suggest its eventual look. In most cases, however, a release date is not specified — especially when shooting has yet to begin. If the release date ends up changing due to the distribution chess game, advertised dates often have to be “sniped,” or blackened out by printers or movie theater owners.

Now that New Line has slated Austin Powers installment “Goldmember” for July 26, the long-lead “X” campaign takes on more urgency. As a mid-budget, James Bond-ish actioner introducing a new concept, it will need plenty of visibility to compete with a known commodity like Powers.

Another reason for the push is topliner Vin Diesel, who is less than a household name despite starring in this summer’s hit “The Fast and the Furious.” Reteaming with “Furious” director Rob Cohen and producer Neal Moritz, Diesel will be making $10 million for “Triple X” and thus commands a significant promo commitment.

A Revolution rep said the strategy is simply a way of getting a jump on the 2002 summer onslaught.

Tentpoles already planted include Warner Bros.’ “Scooby-Doo,” DreamWorks’ “Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron,” Fox’s “Minority Report” and “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” In the weeks just before “Triple X,” Sony also plans “Spider-Man,” “Men in Black 2” and “Stuart Little 2.”

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