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Movie release dates are a game of strategy

Janet Nguyen Aug 12, 2015

Movie studios are releasing more than a dozen films Friday, a strategic date that distributors have planned well in advance, the New York Times says.

So what’s the magic formula behind a flick’s release date? It hinges on a number of factors, including the competition, how well it might fare on the awards circuit and, of course, if someone like Meryl Streep is opening a film around the same time, according to the Times. 

The type of film that studios release during the summer depends on what part of the summer you’re talking about. Blockbuster releases, early summer. Small or “smallish films,” mid-to-late summer (to take advantage of blockbuster fatigue). And the end of summer “can be a dead zone,” the Times says. 

Some of the 14 film releases coming Friday include “Rosenwald,” a documentary that chronicles a Jewish philanthropist’s efforts to build schools for African-Americans in the South; “People Places Things,” a movie about a graphic novelist who deals with being a single father; and “Ten Thousand Saints,” a drama that delves into the 1980s New York punk scene.

A late Labor Day thwarted an earlier release of “Rosenwald.” Friday was ultimately chosen to build on the film’s July showing at the NAACP’s annual convention, says Michael Tuckman, who developed the film’s release strategy, to the Times. Meanwhile, “People Places Things” is not in competition with big screens, but alternative methods of movie watching.

“We’re not competing with ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ which opens theatrically, but with whatever is coming out on cable and iTunes that weekend,” Andy Bohn, with the distributor Film Arcade, told the Times.

The Times says the reason for the delayed opening of “Ten Thousand Saints,” originally set to open last week: Meryl. (“Ricki and the Flash,” in which Streep plays a rockstar mom, opened August 7.)

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