Baron Cohen comedy to be released May 16

In a shrewd dating maneuver, Paramount has decided not to go head-to-head with Warner Bros.’ “Dark Shadows,” bumping Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator” from a May 11 release to Wednesday, May 16.

Warners recently began marketing the Tim Burton-helmed “Shadows” in earnest as a dark comedy, which positions “Shadows” in the same comedy vein as “The Dictator.”

The Par pic now will debut the same week as Universal’s “Battleship” and Lionsgate’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” both of which bow May 18.

It’s likely that Par hopes “Dictator” will build buzz among its targeted adult male audience leading up to the weekend. Moreover, the pic may benefit from the divisive chatter that Baron Cohen pics tend to spark beyond their core demo.

“Dictator” marks the third feature mockumentary for Baron Cohen, after “Borat” and “Bruno,” about a fictional Middle Eastern ruler who visits the United States. Larry Charles helmed.

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