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Warner Bros. bumps July's 'Jupiter Ascending' to February 2015

Warner Bros. will release 'Jupiter Ascending' in February 2015 instead of July 2014
Warner Bros. is blaming the 'Jupiter Ascending' release date change on additional visual effects work
According to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys, 'Jupiter Ascending' wasn't going to open strong

The Wachowskis' new movie won't be rising this summer.

On Tuesday -- roughly six weeks ahead of its July opening -- Warner Bros. announced that "Jupiter Ascending," the latest film from siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski, would be bumped eight months to Feb. 6, 2015.

Dan Fellman, the studio’s president of domestic distribution, said the last-minute move comes as a result of unfinished visual effects.

“We’ve been trying like hell to get this finished,” Fellman said. “But there are over 2,000 visual effects shots in the movie, and it’s just not gonna happen in time.”

But the trailer for “Jupiter Ascending,” which stars Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, was met with negative fan reaction when it debuted online in December. And according to those who have seen early pre-release audience surveys, the film was tracking in line with the studio's other action flick, “Edge of Tomorrow,” which may debut with a disappointing $25 million this weekend. That would be a weak opening for a picture that cost Warner Bros. and partner Village Roadshow at least $150 million to produce.

In March the studio seemed to be moving full-steam ahead with the original release plan, sending Tatum and Kunis to CinemaCon, an annual movie theater owner convention in Las Vegas. Standing onstage in front of thousands of exhibitors, the actors read from a teleprompter about how the film would “make you look at things in a new way.” Set in the future, the film follows an Earth-bound janitor (Kunis) whose destiny changes when she meets an interplanetary warrior (Tatum).

Asked why the studio moved forward with that promotional push despite apparent post-production troubles, Fellman said he had long “been concerned about the production schedule, but we thought we could make it.”

“We got down to the wire and we just had to make a decision,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what anybody says. Nobody has seen the movie, so everybody is speculating. People said bad things about ‘World War Z’ when that got pushed, and look how that turned out.”

Meanwhile, the Wachowskis have not had a good run at the box office as of late. Though the three films in their “Matrix” franchise were hits, their last two films, “Speed Racer” and “Cloud Atlas,” flopped in North America. The latter film, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, took in just $130 million worldwide against a $102-million production budget.

As for Warner Bros., its summer comedy "Blended," starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, launched with an underwhelming $17.7 million over the four-day Memorial Weekend holiday. And if "Edge of Tomorrow" does not perform exceptionally well overseas -- where its star Tom Cruise is typically a big draw -- the movie could prove to be another miss for the studio.

However, in recent years a number of films have seen success after major release date changes. As Fellman pointed out, Paramount's Brad Pitt zombie flick "World War Z" -- a film plagued by bad buzz -- was pushed six months and went on to gross $540 million worldwide. In summer 2012, that same studio moved its "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" to March 2013, when it collected $375 million globally. 

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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