It Came From the Shelf

Image lifted from, which is sort of my pointI was a little surprised to learn that Paramount is releasing Christian Alvart’s “Case 39” this Friday. It’s been on the studio’s shelf for so long that I figured its chances of a theatrical run were long dead — it’d end up being one of those titles that gets dumped out years later, straight to DVD, with crappy box art that almost begs you to leave it on the rack.

But Renee Zellweger will not be denied, apparently, so “Case 39” — which casts her as a social worker who becomes convinced that her latest charge (Jodelle Ferland) carries some supernatural weirdness — is getting a North American run after all. And just in time for Halloween!

The thing is, “Case 39” is one of those multi-tiered co-production deals, and its other rights holders around the world have been releasing it, both theatrically and on DVD, for quite a while now. The studio even appears to be using a marketing campaign designed in early 2009, since the trailers barely acknowledge Bradley Cooper is in the picture when they should be playing him up — surely he’s a bigger draw than Zellweger at this point in their careers.

This happens every now and then, when an American production falls through the cracks and ends up late to its own release — “88 Minutes” is the most egrigious example I can remember, having bounced around Sony’s schedule for so long that bootleg DVDs were being sold on Canal Street in New York a good ten months before its theatrical bow. (That movie was also terrible, which probably influenced Sony’s decision to pretend it didn’t exist for so long.) The pirate sellers of Toronto have been keeping a low profile of late, but I’d be willing to bet they’ve had “Case 39” in their little packets for a while.

Anyway, if you’re curious (and you own a multi-region player), you can order a legitimate “Case 39” DVD from Amazon UK for less than eight pounds — about $18 CDN, shipped, which is considerably cheaper than buying two tickets at your local megaplex. If I’d known about the North American release last week, and Paramount’s decision not to screen the film in advance, I’d have ordered one myself; as it is, there’s no way it’ll arrive by Friday.

I wonder if anyone else was quick enough to snag a copy. I guess we’ll find out, huh?