‘H20’ disturbs ‘Behavior’ release date

MGM moves pic forward to July 22

MGM has taken fright at Dimension Films’ slasher pic “Halloween: H20” and moved the release date of its own teen thriller, “Disturbing Behavior,” forward by two weeks to July 22.

The news came one week after a standoff between the two companies following Dimension’s announcement that it intended to make the weekend of Aug. 7 its own (Daily Variety, June 10).

“We always wanted to be first,” contended MGM president of worldwide distribution Larry Gleason. “It’ll be tight to finish the picture in time, but it’ll be a big benefit being the first teen thriller on the market since ‘Scream 2.’ ”

“Behavior,” written by Scott Rosenberg and directed by David Nutter, is about a kid who stumbles upon a small-town conspiracy to convert rebellious teens into clean-cut, upstanding citizens. Pic stars Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl and James Marsden.

Although MGM has been promoting “Behavior” for some time, by moving it is bowing to the inevitable. The value of the Dimension brand, in concert with strong word of mouth and terrific test screenings on “Halloween,” forced the Lion to re-think.

But Gleason maintained that the studio is far from licking its wounds.

“We probably would have stayed with Aug. 7 if (Dimension) hadn’t come in, as were ahead of ‘Blade’ and ‘Virus,’ ” he conceded. “But July 22 was one of the dates that we looked at originally. We want to be first.”

July 24 is the launchdate for Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks’ “Saving Private Ryan.”

“The two pictures are completely different genres,” observed Gleason. ” ‘Ryan’ is a strong adult drama while ‘Disturbing’ is a scary picture for kids.” He said that MGM planned to put “Behavior” out on about 1,800 prints.

If anything, Gleason said that MGM felt more threatened by Sony’s “The Mask of Zorro” and Fox’s comedy “There’s Something About Mary” than by “Ryan.” Both these pics come out the previous week, July 17.

Swashbuckler “Zorro” is likely to play to a wide audience. “Mary,” which stars Cameron Diaz, is a comedy from the Farrelly brothers, the makers of “Kingpin” and “Dumb and Dumber.”

As more studios move into the “scary” and “teen thriller” genres, they are finding it increasingly competitive to get decent playdates. Slated for release over the next 12 months alone are Dimension’s “The Faculty,” and “Existenz;” MGM’s “Carrie II;” Sony’s “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” and “John Carpenter’s Vampires;” Universal’s “Bride of Chucky;” and New Line’s “Blade.”

Dimension execs could not be reached for comment.