Did Vin Diesel Kill Thor?

UPDATE 1/12/11: Megaplex Theatres, which operates three digital IMAX theaters in the Salt Lake City, UT region is confirming our IMAX DMR schedule of Apr 29 Fast Five, May 6 Thor, and May 20 Pirates.  They are also confirming a July 1 IMAX 3D release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which has not yet been officially announced by IMAX or Paramount.

UPDATE 1/11/11: Inside sources at IMAX have confirmed that Thor is scheduled for release at IMAX film and digital theaters on April 6, 2011.  This leads to the possibility that in exchange for the ability to open Thor day and date, Universal agreed to a combination of a one-week run for Fast Five along with the addition of Sanctum as a DMR release, which was announced three days before TRON Legacy’s opening.   Sanctum opens Feb. 4 for a two week run, which negatively affects chances for the Justin Bieber concert film, Never Say Never, a Paramount release opening a week later, to appear on IMAX screens.

Make no qualms about it.  There’s a THOR trailer attached to the IMAX digital version of TRON Legacy.  And it actually ends by saying “Experience it in IMAX.”  So where are the press releases, the articles, the fanboy sites going gaga over this? Why is the only word of the trailer a few comments on a couple of online message boards?  Is this the biggest blunder in Imax Corporation’s history?  Could it be the deepest coverup in cinema since Jaye Davidson turned out to be a man?

The answer may lie in the studio practice of switching film launch dates and the big screen company’s attempt to create two-week windows on its films.  Here is a brief timeline as things progressed:

  • Sept 2009: Spider-Man 4 announced as DMR film.  Launch date May 6, 2011
  • Jan 2010: Spider-Man 4 moved to July 3, 2012
  • Jan 2010: THOR moved from May 20, 2011 to May 6, 2011
  • Jan 2010: Pirates of the Caribbean announced for May 20, 2011
  • Jun 2010: Pirates announced as DMR film.
  • Sept 2010: Fast Five announced as DMR film.  Launch date June 10, 2011
  • Nov 2010: Fast Five moved to April 29, 2011

So, as it now stands, here are the release dates for the four films:

  • Fast Five (Universal, confirmed DMR) April 29, 2011
  • THOR (Disney/Paramount, unconfirmed DMR) May 6, 2011
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney, confirmed DMR) May 20, 2011
  • Spider-Man 3D (Disney/SONY) July 3, 2012

The scheduling conflict lies with THOR’s position between two confirmed DMR films and IMAX’s desire to maintain two-week windows between films.  Currently, there is only one week between Fast Five and THOR and two weeks between THOR and Pirates.

IMAX could ask Universal for a limited one week run on Fast Five, but that’s doubtful as this is the first Universal production they’ve had in eight years and its important for them to keep the studio happy.

They could push the IMAX launch of THOR back a week, but that would eat into Disney’s other major franchise, Pirates.  IMAX has also learned with Harry Potter and the first Transformers that delaying an IMAX release while the conventional release continues as scheduled results in a decreased box office.

The third option is to show two films simultaneously.  This happens in film-based institutional and standalone commercial theaters all the time and has happened once before in cineplex-based IMAX digital theaters.  But unlike that situation, where Where the Wild Things Are played during the day while This Is It played at night, the target audience for all three films in the current situation is the same – teens to young adult males.  It’s also very unsure if Universal would share screen time with Disney and Paramount or if Disney would want two of their marquee films on the same screen at the same time, cannibalizing each other’s potential revenue.

So this leads to the question of why the trailer for “THOR: An IMAX 3D Experience” was attached to TRON Legacy and continues to play before it.  Was the film dropped and nobody caught the error or is IMAX working on a solution that will appease all the players?

Either way, the two-week launch window has arrived and as a result, Vin Diesel has placed the God of Thunder in a precarious situation indeed.

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