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WB spins ‘Sphere’ into Feb.

Warner Bros. is pulling its underwater sci-fi thriller “Sphere” out of the crowded Christmas release season and dropping it into the lucrative Presidents Day holiday slot in mid-February, the studio announced Monday.

A spokesman said the film will meet its late-October final-cut deadline, but that the decision to postpone the Barry Levinson-helmed pic stemmed from a desire for a longer lead time to conduct marketing and advertising than would be possible with a Christmas release date.

“It will be ready in October, but getting it that late, and having a full schedule of movies competing for the time and attention of critics and reviewers, we felt we could do the movie more justice if we release it in February,” the spokesman said.

Pic, based on Michael Crichton’s novel, stars Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson. The film was briefly held up during pre-production last October when its budget was reviewed and adjusted.

Hoffman also stars in Warner Bros.’ “Mad City,” slated to bow in November, at the start of the Christmas season.

Warners’ other December releases are “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and “The Postman.”

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