Paul Walker’s sudden death in an automobile crash in November was devastating to his millions of fans. It also presented a challenge for Relativity, distributor of action movie “Brick Mansions,” which had been scheduled for a February release.
When the star of a movie dies suddenly, it’s essential to handle the release carefully. Go into the marketplace too early, and a distributor risks treading on fans’ grief. Push the release back too far, and the film grows older while fans move on. Searchlight opened James Gandolfini starrer “Enough Said” about three months after the actor’s death, while Philip Seymour Hoffman starrer “God’s Pocket” opens in May, three months after Hoffman died.
Relativity has dated “Mansions” for April 25, about five months after Walker’s death, in a stretch not too crowded with other actioners, and before the summer tentpole onslaught. Though marketing materials don’t overtly focus on its star’s demise, Relativity opted to hold a series of fan screenings instead of a premiere, and to donate what would have been the cost of a premiere to Walker’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide.
Fans are still intensely interested in the late “Fast & Furious” star, and Relativity has kept the momentum going by posting behind-the-scenes footage and other items on his Twitter feed and Facebook fan page, which has nearly 30 million likes. Relativity topper Ryan Kavanaugh advised on editing the action-packed trailer, which shows Walker jumping out of a window and landing on a car, dodging an axe, driving a Mustang and jumping from one building to another.