Terror tactics

New 'Halloween' taking on 'Behaviour'

Dimension Films is employing scary tactics for its latest scary movie.

The Miramax genre division has given its slasher thriller “Halloween: H20” an Aug. 5 release date, pitching it directly against MGM’s teen horror pic “Disturbing Behavior,” which goes wide Aug. 7.

Miramax co-chairman and Dimension founder Bob Weinstein said that he expects “Scream”-type business from “H,” in which Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode.

Dimension claims that the pic has scored even better than “Scream” in test screenings. Independent sources verified the findings.

“I’m not worried about (“Disturbing Behavior”),” Weinstein said. “But (MGM) is going to have to think twice. If I were them, I’d move.”

MGM, however, says that it is not budging. “We have a young, teen thriller in the vein of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer,’ and they have a sequel,” said Larry Gleason, MGM’s worldwide theatrical distribution prexy. “Our film is finished, we have posters up, and we’ve had trailers in theaters since Memorial Day. As of today, we aren’t moving.”

In “H20,” which was written by Robert Zappia and directed by Steve Miner, Strode once again takes on her knife-wielding nemesis, Michael Myers.

“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.

Gleason believes that “Behavior” will reap the benefits of one of its stars, teen sensation Katie Holmes (“Dawson’s Creek”), who appears in the pic alongside James Marsden and Nick Stahl.

Either way, on the weekend of Aug. 7, both “H20” and “Behavior” will be up against Paramount and Buena Vista Intl.’s action/thriller “Snake Eyes,” starring Nicolas Cage and Gary Sinise. While “Snake” is a starry, big-budget Hollywood pic, like the other two films it skews to a core audience of young males.

Once all three films are off the starting blocks, none of them will get an easy ride. On Aug. 14, Universal pitches in with its alien actioner “Virus,” and Warner Bros. releases its comedy-thriller “The Avengers,” starring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman.

“No matter what we gross on opening weekend, we’re confident that ‘H20’ will stick around,” opined Weinstein.

Then, on Aug. 21, New Line Cinema releases the comic book actioner “Blade,” starring Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff, against Paramount’s teen comedy “Dead Man on Campus.”

New Line sources said that “Blade” has tested well in all demos, and that the company would mount as broad a campaign as possible.

A Paramount source said that the studio was targeting an “MTV audience” for “Dead Man.”

According to Weinstein, by releasing “H20” in the late summer, Dimension is making the same type of bold marketing move that it originally did with the two “Scream” installments, both of which defied convention by coming out in December.

“This is not just another ‘Halloween’ sequel,” he emphasized. “It’s the 20th anniversary of the franchise, it stars Jamie Lee Curtis, and test audiences have said that ‘H20’ is as good as the original film.”

Rivals contend that Miramax/Dimension has staked its claim on a particular date in the past, only to move the film a few weeks later. Weinstein insisted that this won’t be happening this time. “I’ve chosen a date, and I’m going with it,” he said.