New Line’s ‘Guy’ finally gets a break

Gangster pic gets new date

HOLLYWOOD — New Line Cinema last week changed the release date for gangster pic “Knockaround Guys” for a sixth time — but for once, it’s actually being moved up, not further back, on the release schedule.

The date of Oct. 11 has been nailed down, the studio’s head of marketing Russell Schwartz promises, this time for good. That’s saying a lot: After all, “Knockaround” began filming before the expected Y2K meltdown –September 1999. It has since moved from a January 2001 to a April 2001 to an August 2001 to a fall 2001 to an Oct. 18, 2002, bow.

When released, “Knockaround” will mark the helming debut of scribes Brian Koppleman and David Levien, who most recently penned the adaptation of John Grisham’s “The Runaway Jury” that got the movie greenlit at New Regency; they also wrote the 1998 Matt Damon starrer “Rounders.”

In the studio’s — and the film’s –defense, New Line suffered from significant exec turmoil around the time the pic lensed and when it would have been ready for release. Production prexy Michael De Luca ankled in January 2000, and a week later, the company laid off 20% of its workforce.

Then marketing wires were crossed in May 2001, when New Line theatrical marketing chief Joe Nimziki ankled, again leaving the pic in the lurch.

Now, New Line domestic marketing capo Schwartzhas pledged a wide release of the Lawrence Bender-produced film. He also maintains that “contrary to most movies, ‘Guys,’ and its stars, have improved with age — like wine, or a good cheese.”

Indeed, in 1999, most of the Clearasil set would have laughed at the idea of Vin Diesel as a $20 million-per-pic megastar, vaguely knew of co-star Seth Green and likely would have answered the question “Who is Barry Pepper?” with “Barry who?”

The Endeavor-repped Koppleman and Levien have their next pic set up with the exec who gave them their break: DreamWorks’ Mike De Luca.

“We are so happy to have this date,” said Koppleman, “and whatever it took to get here.”

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