Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures will change the opening date of its Sacha Baron Cohen-starrer The Dictator forward five days, moving from May 11 to its new date on Wednesday May 16. That is being done to avoid a head to head showdown against Warner Bros’ Dark Shadows. The move was made after a trailer for the Tim Burton-directed Johnny Depp-starrer began showing that the film seems far more comedic than expected considering its eerie subject matter. Paramount didn’t want to risk cannibalizing the comedy audience by bashing heads with a rival on the same opening weekend.

Now, The Dictator opens closer to Memorial Day, between Dark Shadows and Battleship. Warner Bros is never shy about scheduling such opening weekend dust ups, which is has done when Arthur went against Your Highness, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas went against Tower Heist, and Sherlock Holmes 2 went against Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol. Paramount gave itself five days of space from that date, and it worked out well for everyone.