Get out your 2009 calendar, and write this down. What, you don't have a 2009 calendar? You don't plan things more than a year in advance? Oh, you must not work in Hollywood -- those studio execs like to schedule movies farther and farther in advance these days. Back in April, before the 2007 Memorial Day holiday had even come, both Dreamworks Animation and 20th Century Fox had already penciled in their Memorial Day 2009 bows -- Monsters vs. Aliens and Avatar, respectively. Despite the serious competition involved in having those two blockbuster 3-D movies go head to head, the studios could have sat on that news for awhile, at least until 2008 or so. But since then, Dreamworks has twice shuffled its release date for Monsters vs. Aliens. First, it moved the animated pic back a week in order to avoid a clash with James Cameron's hugely anticipated Avatar, and now, according to Variety, it has again changed its mind, pushing the animated movie up a couple months to March 27.

Dreamworks claims the bump up is due to a desire to distribute on the most screens possible, banking on the fact that at least 5,000 theaters will be 3-D equip by then. The studio also points out that the spring month has proved to be a good time for family films. Well, yes, but the summer has obviously been pretty good for giant family films like those Dreamworks' own Shrek films. If I wanted to be cynical about the move -- and I rarely miss an opportunity to be a cynic -- then I might throw it out there that Dreamworks is truly afraid of Avatar, particularly fearful that Cameron's new 3-D cinematography will be so good that it will make the 3-D in Monsters vs. Aliens look like a throwback. This could very well not be the case; Dreamworks' own next-generation 3-D technology is likely to be very impressive, too, and surely the kiddies will not be comparing the two films anyway. That's our job.

So, in case you don't have a 2009 calendar, make one out of construction paper and brass fasteners, and then pencil in (Dreamworks could always change its mind again in the next 18 months) March 2. Monsters vs. Aliens will be the studios' first animated film produced in 3-D -- rather than modified after production -- and will be a sort of comic reinvention of old monster movies. Shrek 2's Conrad Vernon and Shark Tale's Rob Letterman are directing.