I went on the Coffee and Markets podcast this week to discuss Hollywood’s focus on remakes and reboots, and host Brad Jackson openly showed his frustration with the new tentpole culture of summer, asking questions that answered themselves about whether the move away from originality was purely about money. In the blur of superheroes, Transformers and ninjutsu-practicing turtles, director John Ross and I both brought up Jupiter Ascending as a bright spot of large-scale originality on the horizon of the hot months.
Turns out we were wrong.
According to Variety, Warners is not only delaying the release of the Wachowskis’ July adventure, but exiling it to the wasteland of February. There is no clearer sign of faithlessness in a film. It is a studio scarlet letter. Plus, on the heels of the fantastic and fantastically floppy Cloud Atlas, it’s easy to be cynical about the possibilities here.
The Wrap claims that the delay is because the VFX isn’t and won’t be finished in time for the planned international release. Even if that’s the honest truth instead of positive spin, it doesn’t explain why the movie has landed in the dead zone. Jupiter Ascending is now scheduled for February 6, 2015, vacating a comfy position between all the other massive CGI epics (that came with name recognition) of the summer. The thing is, there are spaces in the calendar in December before the final Hobbit, and there are spaces in the calendar next March and April. February? Eesh.
There’s no way to view this optimistically, which is a shame not only for the ever-present hope for entertainment, but for the ephemeral good of blockbusters that don’t come from comic book pages. Originality on its own isn’t a virtue, but when the cinematic environment is evolving into a place where Indiana Jones would have trouble getting a pilot’s license, it’s tough to see something with a big budget and no source material get marooned on the island of misfit movies.