With just six weeks to go, Warner Bros. Pictures has slammed on the brakes and abruptly pulled the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending out of its July 18 release date.
Multiple outlets reported the news late Tuesday evening, with the film now moved completely out of 2014 and into a new release date of Feb. 6, 2015.
The official reason for the delay? The filmmakers need more time to complete the film's extensive visual-effects work. But let's be honest: Effects work is finished under back-breaking deadlines all the time. There may be more to the story than that.
Jupiter Ascending has been the subject of bad buzz in recent weeks, with the trailers apparently not getting a good response from audiences and box-office tracking for the $150 million space opera said to be weak.
The movie stars Mila Kunis as a cleaning woman who discovers -- with the help of the alien soldier (Channing Tatum) who becomes her protector -- that she is possibly the one being who can unseat the evil Queen of the Universe. The trailers make it look equally confusing and exhilirating, although the Wachowskis' trademark astonishing visuals are on full display.
Warner Bros. is already having a shaky summer: Godzilla is a hit, but the Adam Sandler comedy Blended has tanked and, more ominously, the expensive Tom Cruise sci-fi action thriller Edge of Tomorrow is potentially looking like a flop as well (which is too bad, since the movie is pretty great). The studio perhaps did not want another expensive misfire dragging down its season, even though marketing money has already been spent on Jupiter Ascending.
Moving the picture doesn't necessarily do it any favors: With this year's exception of The Lego Movie (also a WB release), movies released in January and early February -- traditionally one of the slowest moviegoing periods of the year -- are often considered to be writeoffs. Does this mean that the studio is not confident in the film? Ironically, it will now open against Seventh Son, a fantasy that WB delayed three times before it finally got sold off to Universal.
And what does this mean for Andy and Lana Wachowski? It's been a long time since the siblings scored with the Matrix trilogy, and their last two directorial efforts -- Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas -- were high-profile duds. Is their vision -- a unique one, for sure -- just too weird for major Hollywood studios to market properly?
I suspect we'll hear more about this in the months to come, as the long wait to see Jupiter Ascending next February begins. What do you think happened here?