U changes ‘Mind’ on release plan

Sony skeds 'Ali' for wide Christmas bow

Another day, another holiday re-slotting. Universal announced Thursday that it’s releasing U/Imagine co-prod “A Beautiful Mind” on a limited number of screens on Christmas Day. Russell Crowe starrer then will go wide Jan. 4.

Announcement — which alters a planned wide bow on Dec. 25 — follows by two days Sony’s skedding its high-profile “Ali” biopic for a wide Christmas bow. But U insisted the rival distrib’s move didn’t change its “Mind.”

“It did make it a more crowded environment,” U distrib topper Nikki Rocco allowed. “But we were talking about this plan three weeks ago. It’s common practice for us to fine-tune our release plans.”

U will release Ron Howard-helmed “Mind” in nine to 12 markets on Dec. 25, Rocco said. That makes “Ali” the sole wide bow on Christmas day, a Tuesday; however, the pre-holiday weekend has at least five pics skedded for wide debuts.

They are: New Line’s tentpole fantasy “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” Warner Bros.’ Jim Carrey starrer “The Majestic,” Miramax’s Meg Ryan-Hugh Jackman fantasy “Kate & Leopold,” 20th Century Fox’s Tim Allen vehicle “Joe Somebody” and Paramount’s animated kidpic “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.”

Miramax also skedded Martin Scorsese-helmed Leonardo DiCaprio starrer “Gangs of New York” for a wide bow Dec. 21. But distrib is expected to announce today that pic won’t go wide until a later date (Daily Variety, Oct. 4).

U has urban laffer “How High” set for wide release Dec. 26.

Among other pics set for limited Yuletide release are two Lions Gate titles — Geoffrey Rush starrer “Lantana” (Dec. 21) and ensemble drama “Monster’s Ball,” with Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger and Sean Combs (Dec. 26). USA Films sends out Robert Altman-helmed “Gosford Park” Dec. 26 in L.A. and Gotham.

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