In an increasingly crowded marketplace, it’s not uncommon to see films shuffle their schedules around in an attempt to maximize their profile and, more importantly, the potential size of their audience. This was recently true of potential blockbusters, like Blade Runner 2049 and the Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey-led adaptation of The Dark Tower. Normally, shifts like these are done well in advance of the film’s actual release date, so as to not raise any eyebrows or cultivate suspicions that a studio lacks confidence in one of its releases. The closer to a film’s release that its turn in theaters is altered, however, the more those suspicions tend to be tacitly confirmed, especially when the film in question is shuffled off to what has become known as the cinematic dumping ground of, say, January or February.
But just as moving a film to the early part of the year is often read as declaration of that release’s lesser value, does the opposite hold true when a film is moved out of a January release to a more competitive slot in the middle of summer blockbuster season? As it turns out, Dimension films will be testing that theory as it has rescheduled its upcoming Amityville: The Awakening from a January 6, 2017 release date to a far warmer spot on the calendar in late June.
As reported by Deadline, just three weeks ahead of its early January bow in theaters, the latest installment in the long-running haunted house franchise has officially jumped to June 30, 2017. Such a move might well indicate Dimension has considerable confidence in the horror film, as it places the movie up against some serious competition in Universal’s Despicable Me 3.
While pitting the latest Amityville movie against a movie whose predecessor notched nearly $1 billion worldwide might seem nonsensical from a moneymaking standpoint, the move isn’t entirely without merit. Counterprogramming has seen some surprising successes in recent years, like Spy and Pitch Perfect 2, both of which performed well against big-budget summer blockbusters. It could be that Dimension sees something similar in the offing, as its PG-13-rated horror flick goes up against the third installment of an animated family movie franchise. If nothing else, perhaps the studio is banking on teens opting out of distinctly younger fare for something a bit edgier and scarier.
To its credit, Amityville: The Awakening does boast an interesting cast that could broaden its appeal with audiences. The film stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Once Upon a Time Star Jennifer Morrison, but it also features Gotham and Shameless star Cameron Monaghan, as well as former Disney star Bella Thorne, giving it a cross-generational appeal that could improve its box office chances.
At any rate, it’s not terribly common to see a film being ousted from its initial early winter release date to a much more competitive and higher-profile midsummer slot. It will be interesting to see whether Amityville: The Awakening turns into a counterprogramming hit, or if it would have been better off duking it out with the likes of Underworld: Bloodlines.
Amityville: The Awakening will now hit U.S. theaters on June 30, 2017