"Green Lantern" Delay In Oz Causes Uproar

By Garth Franklin Thursday June 16th 2011 02:25AM

Village Roadshow is standing by its plans to release comic book blockbuster "Green Lantern" in Australia a full seven weeks after the US premiere despite the ongoing protests of fans reports iF Magazine.

Almost all of the major tentpole films opening in United States this Summer have scored day-and-date releases in Australia including "The Hangover Part II," "Super 8," "X-Men: First Class," "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," "Fast Five" and "Cars 2" along with the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Conan the Barbarian" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

There are exceptions of course, but the delays have been fairly minimal. "Thor" opened two weeks early; "Captain America" will open a week later; "Mr. Popper's Penguins" two weeks later; "Larry Crowne" and "Cowboys and Aliens" three weeks later; " "Bad Teacher," "The Tree of Life" and "Kung Fu Panda 2" four weeks later.

"Lantern" was initially scheduled to open today, but when the announcement came through about the film's delay until August 4th, the move was a surprise. Initially it was thought the delay was to allow for a publicity tour with full cast and crew members showing up for a big premiere. That no longer seems to be the case, and the matter is rubbed in by numerous countries including nearby neighbour New Zealand getting the film in their own cinemas this week.

iF floats the quite plausible theory that the delay may be related to limited availability of 3D screens in Australia - most multiplexes around the country have only about 1 in 4 of their screens capable of 3D projection. While the backlash against 3D has begun in earnest in the United States with major tentpoles seeing drops in revenue from 3D screens this Summer, the technique is still selling well in Australia.

Roadshow must believe that the additional revenue they would get from 3D screenings of the film will offset any lost revenue caused by the delay. It's a gamble, especially with word of the poor critical reviews spreading like wildfire, and the potential piracy issues that could easily appear in a seven week time frame.

Having lived here I've found Australian film scheduling amongst the most confusing in the world, far more prone to sudden and frequent changes than the United States or United Kingdom.

In years past many films and TV shows saw delays of several months before screening here. As the internet age hit though, Australia became a major country for illegal downloads of shows and films which has had the benefit of forcing the distributors and television networks to get off their asses and push for more day-and-date releases.

That said, smaller films are still getting delays and one has to wonder at what cost. Channing Tatum starrer "The Eagle" won't hit Australian cinemas until July 21st - five months after its theatrical release States-side and a full month after the film has been made available for sale on Amazon.com. The Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett-starrer "Hanna" doesn't hit until July 28th, almost four months after its U.S. release, but already a good quality Blu-ray rip can already be found online for those who want it bad enough and care little for the copyright laws.

GL fans have already taken to the company's Facebook page for the film to voice their protest. Roadshow posted: "There really are a number of reasons why the release date had to be pushed back and that's where we will have to leave the discussion." A few weeks ago they warned they would start removing posts complaining about the date change, prompting a rival Facebook page to appear campaigning to move the release date back.

Personally at seven weeks the delay is simply too much for me to bother with unless I was very interested in the film - while I enjoyed the character in the "Justice League" cartoon, the film's promo material is not grabbing me. The ONLY trailer I've seen in local cinemas for the film, even as recently as two weeks ago, was the very first teaser - the one so widely derided that even the studio essentially disavowed it.

Had it come out this week I would have definitely seen it and would've probably been writing up my review now instead of this piece. The delay though, combined with the bad trailers and reviews, means this has very likely become a wait for disc proposition for me. Aussie readers, how do you feel about Roadshow's decision?