The trailer for the psychological horror film "Shelter" touts the pedigree of its participants: "The producers of 'The Ring.' " "The writer of 'Identity.' " "Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore."
But none of those elements are enough to keep the film on the release calendar.
Earlier this week, the Weinstein Co., which had been scheduled to release the movie via its Dimension label on as many as 1,000 screens next Friday, yanked it from the calendar. It has not given the movie a new date, which suggests it could be months or even longer before the film sees a theater, if it ever sees it at all.
"Shelter" examines a young man (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) with multiple-personality disorder who's being studied by a psychiatrist (Moore). As her investigation unfolds, she begins to discover that the multiple personalities are all past murder victims, and the story begins to take on religious and exorcism overtones; it's "Primal Fear" by way of 'The Rite." (You can watch the U.K. trailer below.)
February would seem just the right time for "Shelter;" It's when the calendar is typically clear enough to make room for midbudget genre material. And the movie's pedigreed cast -- Rhys Meyers is a Golden Globe nominee, as the trailer reminds us, and Moore has plenty of art-house credibility --gives it a boost over generic horror fare.
The movie also is directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorg Stein, who have at least a little bit of a name ever since they landed the gig to direct "Underworld 4."
So why is "Shelter" gone from the U.S. calendar?
A person close to the situation who was not authorized to speak about it publicly said that the movie was pulled because it had opened in a number of international territories, including the U.K. and Japan, many months ago. And theater chains, intent on encouraging day-and-date releases, were disinclined to play a movie that had already opened overseas and was even available on DVD in some countries. A Weinstein Co. spokeswoman declined to comment.
The movie could yet be released in American theaters if enough chains relent, the person close to the situation said. It could also get a more limited theatrical release, or even wind up going direct to video.
Theater-owner discontent notwithstanding, it won't be lost on some readers that the Weinstein Co., already known for juggling the release date of one film when another blossoms into a hit, is in full-blown "King's Speech" mode.
The Tom Hooper dramedy expanded to more than 2,000 theaters three weeks ago and has shown little signs of letting up. The Weinstein Co., which not long ago was teetering on the financial brink and whose reserves of cash had been question, has been spending heavily on both a general and Oscar campaign for "Speech." That marketing spend has paid off, propelling it to nearly $100 million in domestic box office. A horror picture along the lines of the "The Rite," on the other hand, is a far less sure bet: That film barely tallied $30 million.
Photo: Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in "Shelter." Credit: Dimension Films