Reflecting on Recent Horror Movie Releases


Release dates for movies often change suddenly and fiercely without any kind of explanation to the public.  This is unfortunately a part of the business that is completely unavoidable and usually ends in the fans getting the worst of the situation when anticipated releases get pushed back further and further.  There have been some very well known occurrences in the horror genre of movies getting pushed back, shelved, and sometimes unceremoniously dumped to DVD.  I am fully willing to admit that apart from writing for this site, I am an industry outsider (which I will someday rectify).  I am not in the business of marketing and distributing films, so I don’t have the legal and fiscal expertise in this subject, but I do like to think I have a good amount of common sense.  This editorial is more of a look into a few prominent release date shuffles in recent memory and an outsiders attempt to make sense of it all with the limited information I’m given.

First there was Rob Zombie’s debut feature film, House of 1000 Corpses.  After being funded entirely by Universal, they rejected Zombie’s first cut because they feared that it would get an NC-17 rating.  Universal unceremoniously dumped the project before blossoming horror studio Lionsgate (Remember when they only release movies no one else would touch with a thirty foot pole like American Psycho, Dogma, Buffalo 66, Frailty, and High Tension?) picked up the film 3 years later and put it out in a small (600ish theaters).  Apparently someone at Lionsgate had the foresight to notice that Rob Zombie Fans and horror fans tend to overlap a bit.  Try to remember these previous bold moves when you think about how they dumped REPO! The Genetic Opera AND Midnight Meat Train in the same year. 

I’m not even going to get started on All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. I talked about it a lot here and every time I think about it, I just get mad...

Moving on

How could I write an article about release days and not mention Trick R Treat?  The movie was first scheduled for release in October of 2007, at which point the official trailer was tacked on to DVD releases of 300 (yeah, that long ago).  Warner Brothers then pushed the movie back without a future release date in 2007.  Soon we hear that we have to wait a whole other year until October of 2008 to see it?  I don’t know if you remember or not, but this movie was reviewed extremely well by the people who saw it at the various film festivals it’s been haunting and it stars Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Tahmoh Penikett,  and Dylan Baker.  These are big names in a movie that has had some great reviews… so what in the hell is the problem?  The fact of the matter is that no one knows, the studio has been completely tight lipped on the entire issue and now the film is scheduled to come straight to DVD on October 6th.  What in the world could have possibly happened to slam this movie backwards 2 years?  I honestly have no idea, but it seems pretty shady.  Speaking of shady…..

Recently we have two suspicious release date changes.  The first one I want to talk about is Martin Scorsese’s new film called Shutter Island which got bumped from October 2nd to February 19th 2010.  If you were keeping score there, that is a mere 6 weeks away from its release date state side.  The official word from Paramount is:

"Our 2009 slate was greenlit in a very different economic climate and as a result we must remain flexible and willing to recalibrate and adapt to a changing environment," said Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Brad Grey in a statement.

Ok, that makes sense, you didn’t see the recession coming (everyone else in the world did), and you want to “solidify” you 2010 release slate.  I completely understand that you want to make some coin in 2010, but why would you wait up until 6 weeks before its release to change the date?  This isn’t like a Harry Potter situation where the decision was made 6+ months in advance; this was pulling the rug out from under the fans.  The trailer was on TV and in front of 2 different movies that I personally saw in the theater this summer (Moon and District 9) so apparently that money was completely thrown away on marketing?  Paramount had a pretty good idea what the fall slate was going to look like back in March so why wasn’t the decision not made back then?  Why wait until you are so deep into the marketing and then completely change your mind?  Why not do a small release in December, get the awards attention for Marty (which no matter what he makes, consideration will be there) and roll it out big in January?  Maybe I am reading into it a bit too much, but it all seems fishy.

Carriers was another film that feel recently to the “get released in like 10 theaters and get dumped to DVD’ cop out that often happens when studios really don’t believe in a film.  Turns out in this case, it’s all on Paramount.  Being released through a branch of Paramount called “Paramount Vantage”, Carriers will be dumped into 10 theaters in markets outside of New York and Los Angeles before getting tossed onto DVD.  Paramount is keeping pretty quiet on the whole issue but some believe it has to do with a regime change. While being a bit more black and white than the Shutter Island shuffle, it still doesn’t make sense what Paramount has against making money.

Carriers (starring Chris Pine) looks like a bleak and dark horror film that if released around Christmas, probably could have done some damage at the box office (case in point: Alien vs. Predator 2) but now it looks like it won’t even get a chance.  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.  Usually I’m fed up with Hollywood’s shameless grab at cash, but in this case it appears that due to some changes in the heads of office, Paramount no longer wants to even try to make money off of this film.  They would rather bury Carriers (also The Marc Pease Experience with Ben Stiller) rather than release them and at least try to get the coin back?  It doesn’t make any sense to me, but maybe that’s why I’m not in the business yet……

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