Sony to unleash ‘Zookeeper’ in sunnier spot

Studio pushes back Kevin James comedy to July 8, 2011

In a vote of confidence, Sony announced it will push back its Kevin James-starrer “Zookeeper” from Oct. 8 to a more robust summer slot on July 8, 2011.

Studio recently held a research screening of “Zookeeper” with positive reactions, hoping the film will “be a big compliment to our summer,” said Sony distrib topper Rory Bruer.

Produced by Broken Road Prods and Happy Madison, with Kevin James and Todd Garner producing and Jeff Sussman exec producing, “Zookeeper” tells the story of a lonely employee (James) who begins to hear romantic advice from the caged animals at the zoo. Sandler, Sylvestor Stallone, Cher and Jon Favreau voice the animals in the pic.

Frank Coraci, who previously directed Sandler in “Click” and “The Wedding Singer,” helmed the live-action project.

“Zookeeper” marks the latest film in a string of projects between Sony, James and Sandler. MGM originally bought the “Zookeeper” spec for $2 million but agreeded to let Sony handle global distribution in light of its financial restructuring. MGM will remain a partner on the film.

Sony last reteamed with James and Happy Madison on the 2009 box office hit, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” which, despite being critically panned, went on to gross $146 million at the domestic box office. “Blart” was arguably the biggest B.O. surprise of 2009.

And this summer auds will be able to watch Sandler and James in Sony’s adult camp laffer, “Grown Ups,” which also stars Chris Rock and David Spade.

Directed by Dennis Dugan (“I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry”), “Grown Ups” opens nationwide June 25.

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