Holiday hand-wringing

Sony, U juggling year-end riches

What does a studio do when it finds itself with a bounty of holiday films?

This year, both Universal and Sony find themselves in the fortunate — if somewhat delicate — position of figuring out how to release a handful of big-ticket pics during the lucrative but narrowholiday season.

Sonyhas slated “Rent,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “All the Kings Men,” and “Fun with Dick and Jane” for release between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Universal has “King Kong,” “The Producers” and “Munich” lined up for the five-week span.

Whatever headaches are entailed in figuring out a way to release all of those pics into a crowded market says U vice chair Marc Shmuger, “It’s a high-class problem.”

With less than three months until Christmas, both studios are still shuffling their oversized decks.

U starts out with its biggest bet of the year, Peter Jackson‘s “King Kong,” on Dec. 14.

While “Producers,” the Mel Brooks adapatation of his Broadway show, and Steven Spielberg‘s “Munich” had both been slated for a Christmas release, U recently decided to platform “The Producers,” starting with a limited release the same weekend as “King Kong.”

A week later, on Dec. 23, it plans to start “Munich” at about 500 theaters, and then on Christmas Day expand “Producers” to around 1,200 theaters.

“Munich” will then expand over the first weekend of the New Year, while “Producers” will expand further on Jan. 13.

Shmuger says each pic got its own release strategyadding, “I think they can comfortably co-exist in the marketplace.”

For Sony, there are four pics in the mix.

It recently moved Revolution’s “Rent” from Nov. 11 to Nov. 23 and signaled it was going with a saturation release pattern.

Two weeks later, it starts its back-to-back-to-back run of “Memoirs of a Geisha” on Dec. 9, then the adaptation of “All the King’s Men” on Dec. 16 and finally its remake of “Fun with Dick and Jane” on Dec. 21, the Wednesday before Christmas.

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