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Studios maneuver for good homevid slots

'MI:2,' 'Storm,' 'Gladiator' slated for coveted pre-Turkey Day date

With the biggest summer movies already released theatrically, studios are now jockeying for prime fourth-quarter homevideo release dates.

November is already so crowded that Columbia TriStar Home Video pushed up “The Patriot” into late October to avoid being caught in the undertow of “The Perfect Storm,” as it was during its theatrical debut.

Nov. 14, which precedes the final weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday, has been the most sought-after date, with “Mission: Impossible 2,” “Perfect Storm,” “Gladiator” and “Fantasia 2000” all initially penciled in for that date as rental titles.

However, Warner has decided to switch to a sell-through strategy with “Perfect Storm,” according to industry sources, while Paramount and DreamWorks are leaning toward moving “M:I2” and “Gladiator” to Nov. 7 and Nov. 21, respectively. DreamWorks is also looking at Nov. 14 for its sell-through release of “Chicken Run.”

Meanwhile, sources say Fox is staking out the week going into Thanksgiving weekend for the third year in a row. The studio is said to be prepping a Nov. 21 sell-through release of “X-Men.” The studio employed the same release strategy with “Dr. Dolittle” in 1998 and “Entrapment” last year. Fox is also believed to be looking at a November sell-through release of the animated feature “Titan A.E.”

However, Fox and Universal have moved “Where the Heart Is” and “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas” away from the fray and back to the less-crowded month of September.

The movement may not be complete. “There’s so much stuff coming out, there will probably be a bunch more jockeying to come,” one distribution executive said.

Also headed to video in October are “Shanghai Noon” (Oct. 10) and “U-571” (Oct. 24), with Universal eyeing Dec. 5 for a sell-through-priced version of “The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps” and Disney considering a Dec. 12 release of “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”

Also expected this fall are “Shaft,” “Big Momma’s House,” “Me, Myself & Irene” and “The Road to El Dorado.”

(Wendy Wilson and Enrique Rivero of Daily Variety sister publication Video Business contributed to this report.)

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