Buoyed by reactions at test screenings, Universal will delay “The Kingdom” from April 20 to Sept. 28 in order to build momentum for the Mideast-set action drama.
U marketing prexy Adam Fogelson said studio brass want more time to create buzz and gain exposure for the Peter Berg-directed pic. Move also reflects Universal’s feelings about “Kingdom’s” B.O. potential.
Fogelson pointed out that no April pic released after Easter has crossed the $90 million mark; studio views the Columbus Day weekend as a potentially bigger score.
That holiday frame has become increasingly important for the movie biz as more schools recognize the three-day weekend, once a primarily an East Coast phenomenon.
Last year, Paramount’s R-rated, teen-male-skewing “Jackass: Number Two” bowed in the frame prior to Columbus Day weekend, earning more than $29 million. Pic added an additional $14.6 million over the holiday frame.
“Kingdom” — toplining Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Chris Cooper — follows an elite FBI detail sent to hunt down a terrorist mastermind. It was produced by Michael Mann and Scott Stuber.
Fogelson said U decided to delay “Kingdom” after seeing reaction to the film during recent tests in Sacramento.
“We had screenings at the high end of extraordinary,” said the exec. “The big and obvious points of the film worked, but also a great deal of its subtlety had an immense impact on audiences.”
Had “Kingdom,” which is not yet rated, remained in its April slot, it would have been up against such studio rollouts as Warner Bros.’ Meg Ryan-Adam Brody starrer “In the Land of Women,” Fox action adventure “Pathfinder” and MGM’s chick-lit adaptation “The Nanny Diaries.”
Pic now moves into fall competish with fare such as WB’s Neil Jordan-helmed “The Brave One,” Fox adventure fantasy “The Dark Is Rising,” U comedy “Bean II” and Ang Lee’s espionage thriller “Lust, Caution,” for Focus Features.