Warner Bros. stunned Hollywood when it pushed the release of “Jupiter Ascending” by seven months — a move that seemed abrupt, but had been debated by the studio for nearly six weeks as the Channing Tatum-Mila Kunis science-fiction epic’s box office prospects dimmed. Delaying a movie’s release is no easy decision, since it adds millions of dollars in interest and other completion costs to the budget and creates negative buzz that is hard to shake. But it can be even more costly and potentially deadly to roll out such a pricey pic, already laden with a production budget of $175 million, before it’s ready.
That became abundantly apparent when Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and international distribution, and other execs saw the latest version of the picture — which had already gone through minor reshoots in January and again three months later to clarify plot points.
The decision to shift the film’s prime July 18 release date to February 2015 was prompted by weak response to a research screening in late April and the fact that the visual effects, on which the futuristic thriller heavily relies, were incomplete.
That left Kroll without enough strong content or time to build an effective marketing campaign to give the movie a proper launch. Warners will spend more than $100 million on worldwide marketing for the movie, which was one-third financed by Village Roadshow.
“The evolution of this film always had a tight delivery, a tight release,” Kroll told Variety. “But it was really about protecting the movie.”
Studios often find themselves in the self-inflicted position of having to race to make a release date that has been set far in advance amid a competitive landscape, and allows no margin for error. This is not the first time that Warner has opted to move the release date of a movie that wasn’t yet cooked.
source: Variety by Alexandre Cheney and Brett Lang