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New studio bumps into Hollywood ploy

January 04, 2008|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Welcome to Hollywood, Overture Films.

The new movie studio knew that its first release -- "Mad Money," a comedy starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes as unlikely robbers -- would face one monster when it opens Jan. 18: the creature feature "Cloverfield" from Paramount Pictures, whose Internet buzz is growing.

Now it may face a scarier one: 20th Century Fox said Thursday that it was moving its romantic comedy "27 Dresses" back by a week to the same opening date.

Starring Katherine Heigl from "Grey's Anatomy" and "Knocked Up" as a perpetual bridesmaid whose dream man is about to marry her sister, "27 Dresses" is targeted at females, so the switch could cut into the core audience for "Mad Money."

But Overture Chief Executive Chris McGurk said he had a "feel-good comedy for everybody" that was testing well with males also and whose stars appealed to a demographic cross section.

"It's wrong to typecast us as a female movie," said McGurk, a former vice chairman of MGM. "We don't have the word 'Dresses' in our title."

He said there would be "plenty of audience to go around" on the Martin Luther King Day weekend. Overture, which bought domestic rights to "Mad Money" for less than $10 million, will do "very well financially" if the movie grosses more than $20 million during its full run, McGurk said.

Studios often shuffle release dates, though not usually with just a week's notice. Fox's move stems at least in part from the surprising success of the comedy "Juno" from its News Corp. sister company, Fox Searchlight.

Fox was concerned that with "Juno" expanding to almost 2,000 theaters this weekend, it and "27 Dresses" would "butt heads" for the female audience Jan. 11, said Bruce Snyder, the studio's president of domestic distribution.

Fox also wanted to take advantage of the holiday weekend, the studio said.

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josh.friedman@latimes.com

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