Fox shuffles ‘X-Men’ and ‘Anna’

Comics actioner, Foster starrer get new release dates

Showing its latest footwork on the release slate dance floor, 20th Century Fox has claimed June 30 for the release of its Marvel Comics actioner “X-Men”; and moved the release of its Jodie Foster starrer “Anna and the King” from Nov. 24 to Dec. 17.

Though the studio previously moved the “X-Men” production start from September to October, at the time Fox also pushed up its release from a holiday 2000 launch to an earlier, but unspecified, berth during the summer (Daily Variety, Aug. 19).

With the move to June 30, the Bryan Singer-helmed “X-Men” trades places with “Minority Report,” the Fox tent-pole starring Tom Cruise under Steven Spielberg’s direction that has been pushed back from its summer release to a probable holiday 2000 issue. “Minority Report” recently moved its start date from October to sometime at the beginning of the year.

“Even at this very early stage, there’s a tremendous amount of excitement among the public and within the studio about ‘X-Men,’ ” said Tom Sherak, chairman of the 20th Domestic Film Group. “We want to make sure that moviegoers can experience what we expect will be one of the year’s most anticipated films during the prime summer playing time.”

According to insiders, Fox moved the Andy Tennant-helmed “Anna” away from Thanksgiving to the competitive holiday window in order to avoid a drop off with its core female audience during the two prime holiday shopping weeks at the beginning of December. Rather than face abandonment just a week into its run and the potential loss of screens, the film, which Fox execs are touting as a David Lean-like romantic epic, can now compete freely for holiday filmgoers. However, in its new slot, “Anna” will have to go head-to-head with Buena Vista’s “Bicentennial Man,” starring Robin Williams; Miramax’s “Cider House Rules”; and Warner Bros.’ “The Green Mile,” starring Tom Hanks.