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MGM Bumps John Woo's WWII Drama 'Windtalkers' From Nov. 9 to June 14

1 Oct, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

MGM has bumped the release of John Woo's World War II epic drama Windtalkers starring Nicolas Cage from its scheduled Nov. 9 date and will unveil the film June 14.

In announcing the strategic move, MGM said a summer release offers Windtalkers the best opportunity to reach the widest possible audience.

"(Windtalkers) is a vivid and realistic story inspired by true events that took place during World War II," said Robert Levin, MGM's president of worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution. "The story is one of sacrifice, heroism and courage. We feel certain that this great film will be enjoyed by the broadest possible audience during the strong summer play period."

But sources at the studio admitted that in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, launching an expensive marketing campaign for Windtalkers had become a risky proposition because breaking news reports on the U.S. response could interrupt television schedules, pre-empting ad buys and limiting attempts to promote the movie.

Windtalkers also stars Christian Slater, Adam Beach, Roger Willie and Mark Ruffalo in the story of military efforts to protect a secret Navajo code language during WWII.

Windtalkers originally was penciled in as a June release this year, before the studio settled on the Nov. 9 date that has now been scuttled. It is the second major film that has shifted release dates since Levin joined the studio in June, when he immediately postponed the Aug. 17 release of John McTiernan's Rollerball remake to Feb. 8.

Moving Windtalkers off the 2001 release schedule leaves MGM with only two films to finish out the year: Bandits, which opens Oct. 12, and No Man's Land, coming in November under the United Artists banner.

But the Lion has enjoyed a successful box office showing this year, reporting the biggest cumulative domestic gross in the studio's 77-year history, a total of $383.3 million at the North American box office.

--Chris Gardner

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