Unfortunately, the nature of the beast in Hollywood is that a real-world tragedy can also present a business opportunity for studios. The sudden death of Paul Walker has seemingly taken Fast & Furious 7 out of commission from Summer 2014, and Warner Bros. has taken advantage of the situation to reposition a key tentpole that is arriving that season (even while the studio set yet another big title for release in 2015).
The Matrix and Cloud Atlas directors Andy and Lana Wachowski's upcoming original sci-fi creation, Jupiter Ascending, got its first visually awe-inspiring trailer earlier this week, teasing Mila Kunis as a genetically-flawless woman - living in a future world where humanity lies at the bottom of the genetic totem pole - and Channing Tatum with a funny goatee.
Jupiter has moved up a week from its previous July 25th, 2014 release date, taking the July 18th spot that was just vacated by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (which, in turn, took Fast & Furious 7's old launch date a few days ago). Hence, the Wachowskis' film is still going to open a week after the Apes installment, but will now compete with Disney's 3D animated Planes: Fire & Rescue during its opening weekend, instead of the Dwayne Johnson-starring Hercules.
Suffice it to say, that's a smart move on WB's part. Jupiter Ascending is a costly investment that, rumor has it, could potentially be the beginning of a new film trilogy for the studio, if the box office turnout is sufficient. Neither of the Wachowskis' last two films - the polarizing Speed Racer movie and Cloud Atlas adaptation - were significant financial hits in the U.S. (Cloud Atlas did much better overseas, though), so we'll have to wait and see if that trend changes with the filmmakers' Kunis/Tatum pairing.
Additionally, WB has scheduled its Peter Pan origin film (a.k.a. Pan) for theatrical release on June 26th, 2015. The fantasy adventure - which has (no surprise) been confirmed for 3D - has secured Joe Wright (Hanna, Anna Karenina) as director, drawing from a script that was penned by Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift) and described as being a Batman Begins-style introduction to the boy who never grew up.
Here is a more proper summary for Pan (courtesy of Deadline):
In this update, an orphan is taken to the magical world of Neverland, where he becomes the savior of the natives and leads a rebellion against the evil pirates.
Pan ought to be relatively family-friendly, so it may serve as counter-programming when the Seth MacFarlane comedy sequel Ted 2 opens the same day, while also facing Pixar's (literally) mind-bending animated feature Inside Out during the latter's second weekend.
Wright's films are generally showered with acclaim for their visual splendor and thematic sophistication, so chances are his version of Neverland will be something to behold - and thus Pan will be a fun ride that can go toe-to-toe with other Summer 2015 tentpoles - especially if Oscar-winner Javier Bardem signs on to chew the scenery as the villainous pirate Blackbeard.
Is Pan's release date the death knell for that other Peter Pan origin film in development, Sony's Neverland? Or is the latter movie now going to be fast-tracked for 2015, meaning there will be dual J.M. Barrie updates that year (in addition to possibly two Jungle Book adaptations)? As ever, we shall have to wait and see what happens next...
Jupiter Ascending opens in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters on July 18th, 2014.
Pan opens in 2D and 3D theaters on June 26th, 2015.
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