Saturday, August 05, 2006

'Black Snake' move

Update from John Beifuss in the CA:

"Black Snake Moan" -- writer-director Craig Brewer's eagerly anticipated followup to the Oscar-winning "Hustle & Flow" -- has been bumped to February from its original release date of Sept. 15, in part because the imminent horror thriller "Snakes on a Plane" has such a tight squeeze on the pop culture zeitgeist that a second Sam Jackson snake film might get lost in the underbrush.

"Black Snake Moan" -- in which Jackson plays a God-fearing bluesman named Lazarus who takes extreme measures to help a sexually promiscuous young white girl (Ricci) conquer her demons -- is now set to open Feb. 17. "Snakes on a Plane" opens Aug. 18.

"Sam is going to be very taxed after 'Snakes on a Plane,' and the press is going to be very taxed on him," said Brewer. "So instead of fighting for screen time and press attention so close to 'Snakes on a Plane,' we're using that time to promote 'Black Snake Moan.'

The date switch also makes it possible for "Black Snake Moan" to screen out of competition in January at the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance officials have screened the film, and are eager to show it, if details can be worked out between Paramount and the festival.

A Sundance screening would be mutually beneficial: Appearances by Jackson, Ricci and co-star Justin Timberlake would enhance the festival's already high star wattage, and festival buzz could help build excitement for the film among critics and adult audiences, who may be wary of the film's volatile sexual and racial content.

Brewer said another reason "Black Snake Moan" was bumped to the winter is that test screenings for the movie indicate that "one of its key markets is going to be college kids, and you can't really market movies to them in September when they're getting back to school."

Wherever "Black Snake Moan" has its official debut, Brewer said he still wants to host a lavish Memphis premiere, similar to the "Hustle & Flow" premiere in July of 2005 that was attended by most of the movie's stars.

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