There's a somewhat standard release model when it comes to how studios handle sci-fi and horror movies. Sci-fi movies, typically being the more costly of the two, claim highly coveted summer dates, while horror movies are relegated to late fall and winter releases. A trio of high-profile projects may have just upset that dynamic for 2013, though.
Two of Sony's biggest movies for 2013 were Elysium (from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp) and RoboCop (from the director of Elite Squad). The former was set for a March 1, 2013 date, which would have been an uncommon date for a potential sci-fi blockbuster, but now it's been moved to a safer August 9, 2013 release. This is actually more in line with typical sci-fi releases, as it shows Sony has confidence that Elysium will indeed be another District 9-level hit for them. Their confidence appears to have shaken, however, when it comes to RoboCop.
Jose Padhilla's remake of Paul Verhoeven's '80s classic originally held that August 9 date, but now it's been bumped to a February 7, 2014 release. No reason for the reschedule has been given, but considering the Joel Kinnaman-led remake has been consistently shelled by movie fans with each new tidbit or set pic, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement for the film.
Warner Bros., on the other hand, apparently has nothing but pride in their latest genre film, James Wan's The Conjuring. The film, based on the true story (take that as you will) of a pair of early ghost hunters named Ed and Lorraine Warren, had been set for a January 25, 2013 release; a normal, safe date as far as studio horror movies are concerned. But the film has apparently been test screening through the roof, and so Warner Bros. and New Line have decided to give the film a July 19, 2013 release date. Yep, they just gave their prime summer slot -- which is usually reserved for movies like The Dark Knight Rises -- to a horror movie.
That doesn't mean James Wan's newest haunted house movie is going to put up Christopher Nolan numbers at the box office (though his last film, Insidious, did earn quite a chunk of change), but it's certainly an interesting move on the studio's part to launch a horror movie like it's a summer blockbuster. Now we just have to wait and see if any of these release date shifts are actually reflected by the quality of the movies or if studio's are just throwing darts at a calendar.
Follow along on Twitter: @PeterSHall and @Moviesdotcom.