Now that studio executives don’t have to worry about all those pesky new scripts coming in all the time, they can concentrate on the fun stuff — like playing with the 2009 release schedule.
The biggest changes are taking place at 20th Century Fox, where James Cameron‘s Avatar has been pushed back from May to December 18, 2009. Taking its place? Night at the Museum 2: Escape from the Smithsonian, which will be released May 22, 2009.
The Avatar shift, according to Variety, was made in order to allow Cameron more time in post-production, as well as giving theater chains more time to install additional 3-D screens. Meanwhile, the Museum 2 news is the first official sign that Fox is moving forward with a sequel to the first Night at the Museum. The second installment was written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, with a rewrite by Scott Frank, and will be the first major film to be shot at the Smithsonian. The filmmakers are pursuing Reese Witherspoon to play Amelia Earhart.
Fox Animation’s Ice Age 3 — which will reunite the voice talents of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, and John Leguizamo — is staying put at July 1, 2009, but the studio has announced that the sequel will be produced in digital 3-D.
Fox Film Group chair Hutch Parker, unsurprisingly, called the moves “a win-win for us.”