When release dates are pushed back more than a week or so, I immediately get nervous. Unless the move is into December, so the short-attention-spanned Academy members will remember the film, my assumption is that there's something wrong with the movie, and the distributor is trying to either hide it, or put it up against competition so bad that audiences will have no choice but to see it. In the case of Black Snake Moan, however, I actually buy the explanation for the move: Craig Brewer's potentially controversial follow-up to Hustle & Flow stars Samuel L. Jackson, whose name you can't mention these days without thinking of Snakes on a Plane. Since Black Snake Moan is a reportedly very serious film about "a young nymphomaniac (Christina Ricci) who has to be 'cured' by an older bluesman (Lazarus, played by Jackson)," it's understandable that Paramount would want to distance it from the goofy, badass buzz that's been generated by SOAP.

Though the release of Black Snake Moan has consequently been moved from September 15 (only a month after the SOAP open) to February 17, its trailer will nevertheless be attached to about 1500 prints of that film, which makes one wonder how much distance will actually be achieved. It also makes one wonder what the hell Paramount is thinking. When I see a movie theatrically, I can tell with, say, 90% accuracy if I've made a terrible mistake just by watching the previews that are shown beforehand -- trailers pretty reliably share a tone and audience with the feature to which they're attached. Black Snake Moan and SOAP? Not so freaking much. It's very odd -- Paramount seems to be running from the SOAP connection while simultaneously trying to ride the Jackson buzz to boost the Black Snake Moan. It'll be interesting to see if this has a positive effect on the film's eventually box office; I'm guessing no.