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‘Red Dawn’ opens to $22 milion after long delay

Performance decent since films that sit in the can often sink at B.O.

Red Dawn” finally made it to multiplexes on the day before Thanksgiving — a full two years after its original planned release date.

Apparently the remake of the 1984 actioner wasn’t hurt too badly by the pic’s time on the shelf, as its moderate $22 million take over five days was in line with expectations. While some titles linger unreleased because of doubts about their playability, “Red Dawn” was instead caught in the crosshairs MGM’s bankruptcy proceedings.

The final film to come out of the MGM regime of Harry Sloan and Mary Parent, it was one of four films shot in 2009 along with “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “The Zookeeper” and “Cabin in the Woods.”

After the Lion went through a bankruptcy in late 2010, it partnered with other studios for distribution.

“Hot Tub” was released in the spring of 2010 and grossed $50 million domestically; “The Zookeeper” was delayed nine months until the summer of 2011 and took in $80 million through Sony. “Cabin in the Woods” was first delayed for a year for a 3D conversion until January 2011, then sold to Lionsgate, which released it in April of this year to a domestic cume of $42 million.

In the case of “Red Dawn,” Sloan and Parent first announced plans for the remake at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Shooting began in Michigan in September 2009 but MGM backed off the original release date in the spring of 2010, then reached a deal last year with FilmDistrict to handle distribution.

Placing films in limbo is a risky move, since interest costs run up and negative buzz can become deafening.

Sometimes, the search for a better release date appears to pay off: Sony moved the release date on “The Green Hornet” three times before settling on January 2011 and winding up with a $99 million domestic gross.

Also caught in a studio reorg shuffle was “The Debt” — Miramax had originally planned to release it in December 2010, but Disney’s decision to sell the label led to an August 2011 release through Focus and a $30 million U.S. gross.

DreamWorks’ “A Thousand Words” was another title caught amid an ownership shift as the Eddie Murphy comedy was shot in 2008 but found itself in limbo once Paramount concluded its deal in 2009 to sell DreamWorks. When Murphy was named Oscar host last year, Par set a release date of March 23 of this year, shifted it to April once Murphy stepped down and finally released “Words” in early March to an underwhelming $20 million domestic cume.

One of the more notable examples of a shelved film is “Case 39,” a Renee Zellweger thriller shot in 2006 and not released in the U.S. until 2010, a year after it had opened in Europe. Domestic box office cume was only $13 million.

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