Universal drops wide theatrical release of 'Stretch': director Joe Carnahan takes to Twitter

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Image Credit: Richard Shotwell/AP

Universal Pictures will no longer be releasing director Joe Carnahan’s low-budget action comedy, Stretch, in wide release this March as initially planned. As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the studio opted out of its initial plans to distribute the film starring Patrick Wilson nationwide — an endeavor that can cost upwards of $30 million in marketing costs — after seeing the finished product.

According to the trade paper, and confirmed by EW, Carnahan and his producer Jason Blum tried shopping the under-$5 million movie to other studios looking for a wide release. When none of the other studios bit on the expansive release strategy the producers wanted for the film described as “cool, offbeat and little,” the film-making team returned to Universal where Blum houses his production company.

Now, the film, whose tone one source compared to an After Hours or Get Him to the Greek, will likely receive an alternative release strategy that could involve a partnership with a Netflix or other direct-to-video partner. In Stretch, Wilson, who also starred in Blum’s Insidious franchise, plays a chauffeur who picks up a difficult billionaire client (Chris Pine) in his stretch limousine for a night of increasingly dangerous events. Jessica Alba, Brooklyn Decker, Ray Liotta and Ed Helms also appear in the movie.

Blum, who gained significant notoriety in recent years for his hit low-budget series Paranormal Activity, has parlayed his films’ successes into a new producing strategy where each film is capped at a $5 million budget. Such flexibility gives Blum and his filmmakers more autonomy when making movies and less pressure to turn a profit. For example, The Purge, made for $3 million, opened in June and grossed $89 million worldwide. (A sequel is due this June.) Another Blum film, Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem, only made a bit over $1 million theatrically, but did well in its video-on-demand window and was still profitable because of  its $1.5 million budget.

Still, Universal’s decision to bail on its initial wide-release strategy casts a pall over the film, one Carnahan (The A-Team and The Grey) tried to rectify Tuesday evening on Twitter. The director declined to comment to EW, as did Universal, but you can read Carnahan’s Twitter rant below.

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