Just one week after Sony Pictures shifted The Green Hornet into 2011, the studio has made another change to its release calendar. The upcoming Kevin James comedy Zookeeper will now open on July 8, 2011, rather than the October release MGM had previously slated for the film. (Sony took over domestic distribution rights from Zookeeper’s co-producer MGM last month.)
Why the delay? Sony says Zookeeper generated tremendous scores after a test screening last week, some of the highest they’ve ever seen. As such, the studio believes they have a big commercial hit on their hands but not enough time to get it into this summer’s calendar. As such, Sony will delay the film an entire year to release it next summer. It’s a risky move considering the comedy, which has James playing against a slew of animated animals voiced by such talent as Adam Sandler, Cher, Jon Favreau, Sylvester Stallone, and Judd Apatow, will now be sandwiched between two of next summer’s most anticipated films: Transformers 3, which will be released on July 1, 2011, and the final Harry Potter movie, scheduled to open on July 15, 2011. Nothing else is currently slated to open directly opposite Zookeeper, but those are two very big movies to get in between. If Sony had stuck with the original date, Zookeeper would have bowed on October 8 opposite Disney’s horse drama Secretariat. Zookeeper is directed by Frank Coraci and produced by Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, James and Jeff Sussman and Todd Garner.