D’Works to toon up ‘Shrek’ early

Sequel sees bow moved up, 'Dance' delayed

In a couple of calendar moves, DreamWorks will open “Shrek 2” on Wednesday, May 19, two days earlier than previously planned, while Miramax has announced that Jennifer Lopez-Richard Gere romantic comedy “Shall We Dance?” will waltz from Aug. 6 to Oct. 15.

DreamWorks distrib topper Jim Tharp said positive feedback from test screenings of “Shrek 2” drove its decision, with the studio hoping that good reviews and word of mouth from the mid-week shows fuel the opening weekend’s box office take.

“We think ‘Shrek 2’ is going to play broader than the original. Word of mouth is going to be good,” Tharp said.

With “Shrek” opening on a similar date as last year’s “The Matrix Reloaded,” which grossed $134 million in its first five days, the decision to open on Wednesday is also a signal from DreamWorks that it considers “Shrek 2” an event pic.

In 2001, the original “Shrek” opened on a Friday in the same frame, grossing $42 million. In its soph sesh, though, it attracted older auds too and picked up $55 million. Eventual domestic cume was $268 million.

“It played really well on the second weekend to older teens,” Tharp said.

The “Shall We Dance?” move is a sign that Miramax will include the romantic comedy in its awards push this year. In the pic Gere plays a lonely accountant who seeks out a dance teacher (Lopez) to spice up his life.

“Summer is extremely crowded, so we’ve moved the film to a much more visible playdate,” said Miramax rep Matthew Hiltzik.

On its original release date of Aug. 6, “Dance” would have been up against DreamWorks’ Tom Cruise starrer “Collateral” and Universal’s cult-TV adaptation “Thunderbirds.”

On the new date, “Dance” will face off against another romantic comedy, Revolution and Sony’s “Little Black Book,” starring Brittany Murphy. U also has its football pic “Friday Night Lights” skedded for Oct. 15.