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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Film distributors continue to jockey for position just weeks before the start of the summer box-office season.
In the two latest maneuvers, Warner Bros. has moved up "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to a midweek domestic bow on July 15, and Universal slipped another wide release into the last full month of summer with an August 14 slotting of horror thriller "A Perfect Getaway."
Warners initially had the latest "Potter" sequel set to unspool last November before postponing its bow until July 17. The latest move -- to a Wednesday opening -- is in keeping with the studio's established pattern with "Potter" pics that debut in the summer.
"We just wanted to wait to get a look at the competitive environment before doing it," Warner Bros. president Dan Fellman said Wednesday. "But the last one opened up to $44 million on a Wednesday, so there's certainly no reason not to do it this time."
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" opened in July 2007 and grossed $77.1 million over its first five days, eventually ringing up $292 million domestically.
"Getaway," which had not yet been scheduled, is set to compete against a whopping four mid-August wide openers. Those include Warners' literary adaptation "The Time Traveler's Wife," Sony's sci-fi film "District 9," Summit Entertainment's youth comedy "Bandslam" and Paramount Vantage's used-cars laugher "The Goods: The Don Ready Story."
Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said the rival releases target different audiences and aren't a concern.
"We likely having an action thriller in that corridor," Rocco said.
Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters