Inside Move: Par anchors ’03 slate ahead of pack

Studio hopes to focus on marketing, build awareness asap

The staking out keeps getting earlier and earlier. And it’s not just the tentpoles getting pegged these days.

Studios have been reaching farther into the future to plant the flag on key dates for “event” pics such as Sony’s selection of May 7, 2004, for the opening of “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

But in a little-noticed move, Paramount recently announced dates for all 16 features on its 2003 slate, from “Marci X” on Jan. 31 to “Tomb Raider 2” on July 25 to “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Dec. 19.

Exhibs cite several forces behind the trend: the increased focus on the marketing of films; the drive to build awareness as early as possible; and the need for the ever-growing list of promotional partners to start planning for the dates.

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