Variety reports that DreamWorks and Paramount have re-thought their distribution strategy for SWEENEY TODD, the film version of the hit musical. The original plan was to roll the film out slowly starting with a platform release on December 21 in order to qualify for the Academy Awards, the widen the release on January 11. The new plan is simply to open the film wide on the the December date.
The reason given is that the studio execs were originally worried that the film’s storyline, which has Johnny Depp as a murderous barber who slices up his customers for meat to be backed in pies, would not instantly appeal to a wide audience, requiring the platform release as a way to build buzz.
Producer Richard Zanuck and director Tim Burton had been pressing for a wide release from the start, and the studio changed its mind when it saw some clips from the film. Still, the studio will likely limit the initial run of theatres to 1,500 for the film, which is expected to receive an R-rating.
The Variety article makes no mention of pressure to cut the film down to a more marketable PG-13 rating – a rumor that was the subject of this post from yesterday.
UPDATE: Anne Thompson confirms that “the issue of cutting back the violence is ‘wild rumors.'”