According to The Hollywood Reporter the release of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip has been moved up five days from its original December 23rd date to December 18th. If that date sounds familiar to anyone that is because Road Chip is now opening opposite Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
That’s right the next Alvin movie is directly competing with Star Wars. There are only a few other wide releases opening on this date other than Road Chip; the two comedies Sisters (Dec. 18) Daddy’s Home (Dec. 25), Oscar hopeful Joy (Dec. 25), and the Point Break remake that Alcon wants to bury (Dec 25). With The Hateful Eight and The Revenant opening in limited release on Dec. 25 and expanding to a wide release on January 8th.
This move is something referred to as counter-programing when a studio strategically places a film to open opposite a predicted box office behemoth to capitalize on a different demographic not served by the blockbuster and to catch run off from the influx of patrons.
Believe it or not, some people do not want to see Star Wars and on top of that the prime time showings of The Force Awakens will sell out, especially on the first two weekends.
Opening directly opposite Star Wars does mean that Road Chip‘s opening weekend box office will be slightly lower than if they had stuck with the original date. The counter-programming move by Road Chip pay off? To quote The Eagles “we’ll find out in the long run”.