The price of real estate may have skyrocketed in recent years, but Hollywood studios can still buy up choice property, it seems, by merely running big ads in Variety. Case in point: Last week, Universal announced a May 11, 2001, release for "The Mummy Returns," the now-in-development sequel to last year's embalmed-monster hit.
The implicit message in the full-color, two-page spread was more than "Hey, we're making another mummy movie." It was a pre-emptive strike aimed at all the other studios that are now arranging their own Summer 2001 slates.
Not that studios (readily) admit to such tactics.
"The real reason [for the ad] is the first 'Mummy' was such a huge success for us, and we are in production on the sequel, and there's been so much interest and anticipation about the movie that we thought we'd let everyone know the [release] date," Kevin Campbell, a Universal vice president, tells Hollywood.com.
Pressed for some inside dope on how the summer blockbuster wars are waged, Campbell caved to our intrepid questioning.
"Yes, we're staking ourselves on that weekend. And what other studios choose to do is really up to them," he says.
And already, the other studios are deciding. Release dates have been chosen for a number of big genre movies to hit screens in Y2K (Plus One). There's "Hannibal," set for Feb. 14; the game-inspired "Final Fantasy: The Movie," set for June 15; and Tim Burton's remake of "Planet of the Apes" on July 4.
"Harry Potter" (©Scholastic Inc.) AND WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT ...: Warner Bros. announced this week that it's pushing back the release date of "Harry Potter" from Summer 2001 to November 16, 2001.
The move supposedly gives director Chris Columbus more time to plan and shoot all the planned special effects. But the move also puts "Harry Potter" up against some other anticipated big holiday offerings, such as "Polar Express" starring Tom Hanks.
"The Six Million Dollar Man" THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR BITTER MAN: Kevin Smith has been trying for years now to bring his favorite comic book heroes to life on the big screen. First, Warner Bros. threw out his screenplay for a new "Superman" movie a few years back, and now apparently Universal has done the same with Smith's attempt at a "Six Million Dollar Man" adaptation.
Jim Carrey, call your agent.