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Sony will open the cage doors on 'Zookeeper' nine months later

April 27, 2010 |  4:59 pm

The 2011 spring and summer movie-going period is already looking bigger, badder and more spectacle-driven than previous springs and summers, which is saying something. Films such as the Marvel action movie "Thor," the next "Pirates of the Caribbean," "The Hangover" sequel and the fourth "Mission: Impossible" are already tentatively scheduled for release -- and that's just in May.

James Now Sony is dropping another star-driven title into the mix. It will move the Kevin James- Adam Sandler comedy "The Zookeeper" out of its Oct. 8 date and to July 8.

The film features live-action animals voiced by a group of stars (Sandler, Jon Favreau and Sylvester Stallone, to name several) as they help the titular zookeeper (James) land the woman of his dreams. Sony several weeks ago took over distribution duties from co-financier MGM, as the latter faces a lack of capital and a cloudy fate. And after testing the film last week, Sony has now decided that a summer release date accommodated its larger ambitions.

The movie's new date does come in a very crowded corridor, a week after “Transformers 3” and four days before the second part of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is released. Sony is clearly hoping its comedy will stand out amid the two big-budget event films. “It plays like a big, big summer movie and this move is all about the opportunity,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' distribution president.

What this means for another Sony project remains an open question. The studio had quietly spread the word in the development community for the last few weeks that it had a slot open for a summer tentpole and was considering moving forward on "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune," the adaptation of a popular video game, for a summer 2011 release. We'll see if "Zookeeper" fills its need or if it still wants another creature to feed.

--Ben Fritz and Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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