Heading out of 2011 and into 2012, the executives and bookkeepers at Warner Bros. began taking a hard look at the numbers of a handful of projects on their slate, and they didn’t like what they saw. The long developing remake of “Akira,” which was gearing up to shoot this spring, seemed to be in an endless casting/testing cycle and the film, which had already stalled out once in 2011 when orignial director Albert Hughes left, had its pre-production offices closed at the start of the month. That’s not all. David Dobkin‘s fantasy pic “Arthur & Lancelot,” which was set to star Joel Kinnaman and Kit Harington, was also put on hold. The studio encouraged the director to take the project elsewhere due to the budget going over by a full three figure number. And it looks like WB is no hurry to revive it.
The studio has reshuffled their slate a bit, and most tellingly, “Arthur & Lancelot” has now been removed completely from the calendar. What is taking its place on March 22, 2013 (one week after the release date pegged for ‘Arthur’)? Bryan Singer‘s “Jack The Giant Killer.” But don’t think that WB is going to leave a prime summer movie slot open — they’ve also bumped the big ’80s musical “Rock Of Ages” to June 15th, the original date for ‘Giant Killer.’
So what does this mean? Well, a few things. Firstly, it seems as if Dobkin’s contemporary retelling of the classic tale is on ice for an indefinite period of time (until some budget issues are worked out or another studio throws it a lifeline). With both leads committed to television shows (“The Killing” and “Game Of Thrones“) we wonder if they’ll be able to stick around for if/when it gets moving again. Meanwhile, moving “Rock Of Ages” to the dead of summer makes sense. Tom Cruise is riding a huge wave thanks to “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” and it’s clear the studio hope the heat for the actor will continue at the box office.
As for the push for ‘Giant Killer’ it’s a bit of two pronged chess move by WB. With no bankable stars (sorry, Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor aren’t marquee names) and a trailer that elicited a lukewarm response from fanboys, the studio was looking at a potential disaster this summer. Moving it nine months allows them more time to get those effects to a good place, but more importantly, really build out a campaign for the movie (say hello to Comic-Con in July folks). But moving from June to March? A clear indication the studio realizes that “Jack The Giant Killer” needs smaller competition to play against, and it’s now the only fantasy film on deck on March 22nd (for now). Lots more opportunity for ‘Giant Killer’ to find a foothold, where a more crowded summer field may have been less forgiving.
We’re not even one month in 2012 and WB is already flipping the script. Much more to come, we’re sure. [Deadline]