Steven Spielberg's "War Horse," a film about a boy who is separated from his horse during World War I, will battle in the cinematic trenches next Christmas against another of the famous filmmaker's movies, "The Adventures of Tintin."
The pictures will now be released five days apart after Spielberg's production company DreamWorks announced Wednesday that it was moving "War Horse" from its original summer date to Dec. 28.
DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider said the decision came after a screening in London for executives of Walt Disney Studios, which distributes most of DreamWorks' movies. She said the studio felt that "War Horse" played more like a holiday event film that would attract a family audience, despite its PG-13 rating.
The schedule shift puts "War Horse" opposite "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn," which comes out Dec. 23. That project, which Spielberg is directing as well as producing with Peter Jackson, is to be distributed by Paramount Pictures.
"It was something we took into consideration," said Snider of the back-to-back timing. "We think that there's room for a couple of holiday movies during that season. People go to multiple films during the Christmas season. We’re hoping both movies play into January."
Snider said the decision opened a place on the release calendar for "The Help," a drama that explores the relationship between white Southern women and the black women who work as domestics in their households. It will be released Aug. 12.
"That period of time has done well for 'Eat, Pray, Love' and 'Julie &Julia,'" Snider said of Sony Pictures releases that primarily targeted female audiences. "We can make a womens' event at that time of the year, after the summer blockbusters have gone through the market."
"Real Steel," a futuristic film in which Hugh Jackman plays a washed-up boxer who loses his shot at the title when giant robots come to dominate the ring, was moved to Oct. 7, from its original mid-November release date. The movie, in which Jackman's character reluctantly reunites with his estranged son to build and train a robotic contender, will be released by Disney.
The lone 3-D release in the DreamWorks slate is "Fright Night," due out through Disney on Aug. 19. The comedic horror flick (think "Zombieland"), which casts Colin Farrell as a vampire who's preying on a neighborhood, seemed to lend itself to that cinematic effect, said Snider.
"We shot it in 3-D. It wasn’t an exorbidant incremental cost to the movie," said Snider.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Steven Spielberg, right, stands on the set of his new film 'War Horse," which is adapted from Michael Morpurgo's novel. (Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)