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Paramount holds back ‘The Flood’

Paramount Pictures has postponed the release of action thriller ”The Flood,” starring Christian Slater and Morgan Freeman, from its scheduled date of May 2 until at least the fall, and possibly until early 1998.

In addition, the studio and Cloud Nine Entertainment, which produced and co-financed ”The Flood,” are reportedly considering a name change for the film about a bank heist in a town threatened by rising flood waters.

There were a number of reasons for the delay, according to sources. For one, ”The Flood,” which is still being edited, would probably not have been completed in time for a May 2 opening.

The original date also put the film’s debut just a week after the opening of 20th Century Fox’s ”Volcano.” Although ”The Flood” is not strictly a disaster film, the studio was nonetheless concerned about competition from ”Volcano.” With the rest of the summer jam-packed with pricey, effects-driven blockbuster wannabes, Paramount opted to hold off the release until at least September.

Freeman and Slater recently made a number of media appearances to explain that the picture is actually a crime drama which uses the flood as a backdrop. The filmmakers are apparently now contemplating retitling the film to downplay its disaster image.

While a fall opening would give Paramount plenty of time to come up with a new marketing campaign to go along with a new name, the studio has another Morgan Freeman starrer, ”Kiss the Girls” scheduled for then, so ”The Flood” — or whatever it’s eventually called — may not flow until early next year.

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