When jittery Hollywood executives reevaluated their fall lineups with newfound sensitivity after the September 11 attacks, they yanked several of the season's linchpins. Several commercial juggernauts, including three major projects with tie-in books, were postponed until next year because of their subject matter, leaving gaps in key holiday release dates that other studios were eager to fill.
First to be bumped was the comedy Big Trouble, based on the Dave Barry novel in which a nuclear bomb is sneaked through airport security and onto a plane. Its release was postponed from September 21 until spring 2002, though tie-in books have already shipped to stores (Book News, Oct. 1). More recently, Windtalkers, about the Navajo Indian code talkers of WWII, was pushed from November to next March. A Newmarket Press title with the same name, on the making of the film, has been moved to February.
Also postponed is Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York. Scheduled for a wide release on December 21, it now appears likely that Miramax will hold it until the first quarter of 2002. The gritty drama portrays violent anti-draft riots in downtown New York in 1962.
The good news is that the season's two major book tie-in blockbusters, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring, will hold their respective November 16 and December 19 release dates.
However, several much-anticipated December films have been adjusted by a few weeks. The biopic of the world famous boxer, Ali, is now debuting on Christmas Day, having been pushed back from its original December 7 release. Newmarket Press's tie-in screenplay, Ali: the Movie and the Man, will remain on schedule for December.
Meanwhile, the release of A Beautiful Mind, directed by Ron Howard and starring Russell Crowe, has been delayed slightly, opening in nine markets on Christmas Day before going wide on January 4. Two related books will stay on schedule: Touchstone's movie tie-in edition of the biography of economist John Forbes Nash Jr., on which the film is based, will be released November 27, while Newmarket will publish A Beautiful Mind: The Shooting Script in December.
One movie tie-in that wasn't in place to benefit from the season's upheaval was Hardball, Daniel Coyle's memoir of coaching Little League baseball in Chicago's projects. The feel-good movie starring Keanu Reaves became the box office front runner for two weekends following the attacks, when other films were postponed. But the paperback was nowhere to be found. Published in hardcover by Putnam in 1994 and later licensed for mass market paperback by HarperCollins, the book was in the midst of reversion to Putnam when agent David Black called with news of the movie last spring. But Putnam deemed time too short to republish.