Hollywood delays summer film releases in Mexico

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With movie theaters in Mexico shut down to contain the spread of swine flu, Hollywood studios have delayed plans to kick off the summer movie season there. The country is regularly among the top 12 foreign markets for US movies.

Actors who had plans to promote films in the country, such as Hugh Jackman and Miley Cyrus, are also staying away for now.

Sony Corp. moved the Mexico release of Terminator Salvation to July 31 from June 5 and Angels & Demons to June 12 from May 15. Star Trek is set for worldwide release May 8, but Viacom Inc. s Paramount Pictures said its opening in Mexico is being delayed indefinitely.

Time Warner Inc. s Warner Bros. pushed the release of the romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past to June 12 from May 8 in Mexico. It was released Friday in the US.

News Corp. s 20th Century Fox delayed X-Men Origins: Wolverine to a tentative May 14 start in Mexico, although the film opens in the rest of the world this weekend. Fox said it expected theaters in Mexico, most of which closed last weekend, to reopen May 10, but is watching the situation closely.

For now Wolverine star Jackman is scheduled to go to Mexico on May 12 or 13, making up for an appearance he canceled this week. Cyrus, the star of Hannah Montana: The Movie, also recently canceled an appearance in Puebla, 65 miles southeast of the capital.

One of the big challenges for the studios in reshuffling the release dates is avoiding having their summer blockbusters go head-to-head on the same weekend.

If the crisis continues, Warner Bros. might also delay the Mexico release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which is slated for July 15.

This is obviously a very fluid situation, said Warner Bros. president of international distribution, Veronika Kwan-Rubinek. Dates could continue to change based on current events as well as how competitive dates line up. -AP

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