Animation giants Disney and DreamWorks won’t be duking it out next year after all.
Hoping to avoid a toon tussle at the B.O., DreamWorks has moved up the date of its underwater mob romp “Sharkslayer” from Nov. 5, 2004 — the weekend Disney and Pixar will bow “The Incredibles” — to Oct. 1.
DreamWorks is also changing the title of the film. The word “slayer” was considered too harsh, given the film’s comedic elements. A new name is expected to be announced in the next week or so.
Given the heavy competish, it’s no surprise that one of the pics is moving out of the November slot.
But DreamWorks had the date first, claiming it last December and trumpeting it in a series of trade ads in January. Disney and Pixar had repeatedly told DreamWorks execs that they didn’t know when they would release “The Incredibles,” making the studio believe it wouldn’t have to face a Pixar juggernaut.
In May, the Mouse House moved in on “Sharkslayer’s” territory, announcing its official date for “The Incredibles” with a teaser trailer attached to “Finding Nemo.” After DreamWorks expressed surprise, Disney simply said that nobody owns a date.
DreamWorks execs have been looking for a new slot on next year’s calendar ever since.
“After looking long and hard at next year’s holiday season, the unbelievably crowded marketplace in November of family films was not the best place for the movie,” DreamWorks marketing topper Terry Press told Daily Variety.
On Nov. 19, the Friday before Thanksgiving, Warner Bros. will release its all-CGI pic “Polar Express,” from Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis. Paramount also bows “SpongeBob SquarePants,” based on the popular TV series.
Studio is high on “Sharkslayer,” saying it may be the start of a franchise, similar to “Shrek,” whose sequel also bows in 2004. “Sharkslayer” features the voices of Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie and Martin Scorsese, among others.
“We believe in the movie, and we believe it can play well and dominate October,” Press said. “If you have the material, there’s no specific season anymore for an event film.”
October has worked for other pics in the past. Universal’s “Meet the Parents,” released on Oct. 6, 2000, went on to gross $166 million at the domestic box office.