Just three months before it was set to hit theaters on March 21, Universal Pictures has decided to scrap its theatrical release plans for Stretch. Director Joe Carnahan's low-budget action-comedy stars Patrick Wilson as a limo driver whose latest job is picking up a deranged billionaire (Chris Pine) who puts him through a night from hell full of dangerous situations.
The project was actually dropped by Universal altogether, although the studio gave producer Jason Blum, who specializes in low-budget films such as The Purge, a chance to shop the project around to other distributors. When he failed to secure a deal with another studio, the project reverted back to Universal, with a source claiming that the studio and filmmakers are exploring "creative options" for distributing the film.
Although the movie, which co-stars Jessica Alba, Ed Helms, Brooklyn Decker and Ray Liotta, only cost $5 million to make, a source revealed that the studio did not want to spend an extra $20 million to $40 million to market a theatrical release. Part of the appeal of Jason Blum's low-cost model is that a project doesn't necessarily need a theatrical release to turn a profit. The producer has a first-look deal with Universal, where he is currently working on The Purge 2. Last summer, The Purge became another low-budget hit for the producer, earning $89 million worldwide from a $5 million production budget.
After this story was published last night by The Hollywood Reporter, director Joe Carnahan addressed the situation through his Twitter account, including a new statement made earlier today, where he guaranteed a theatrical release for Stretch.
Guys. Bottom line. STRETCH is fucking great. It's funny. It's touching. It's unique and @patrickwilson73 is absolutely brilliant in it.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) January 22, 2014
I can talk shit & argue with that idiotic @THR story but brass tacks, that movie works & you will all be fast fans of it when you see it.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) January 22, 2014
I think it's as good or better than my best film & say that from the bottom of my heart. This movie will make it to you, trust me.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) January 22, 2014
Guys, the movie is gonna find its audience & that audience will love it. Whether that happens now or later is irrelevant. It's gonna happen.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) January 22, 2014
For those of you who knock TWITTER, I wish I could show you the hundreds of tweets pouring in right now on behalf of STRETCH. Tremendous.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) January 22, 2014
Guys. Rest assured. You will all see STRETCH, on the big screen, in 2014.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) January 22, 2014
We'll keep you posted on the release status of Stretch as soon as we have more concrete information. Looking at this story and others like it, though...Is this a strategy by Universal to get people talking about the film as a form of free adevrtising? Yes, that definitely works in the film's favor.