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MGM Pushes Rollerball to 2002 - July 06

Note to Bob Levin and John McTiernan: Resuscitate Rollerball now! 

Just a few weeks before its scheduled Aug. 17 release, the remake of "Rollerball" has been pushed back to spring 2002. MGM marketing chief Robert Levin denied that the movie's down to the wire effort to complete its F/X heavy postproduction schedule caused the delay. Rather, he said he wants to "really do the job right" selling the film. Like, say, actually making a trailer... 

He's been at the job for a couple weeks, taking on the rare combination of overseeing both distribution and marketing, and right away MGM's Bob Levin makes what appears to be a good move for Rollerball. He pushed the film to a spring 2002 release. Levin told Variety Magazine that his decision to delay the release was unrelated to supposed problems with the film. However, considering the responses we've received from readers who've seen it, none of which have been positive, it's pretty obvious that major re-tooling needs to be done, certainly enough to warrant forgoing the August 17 release date, the second designated release date.

"I want the time to set this up right," says Levin. "In marketing terms, I want to do things with the film that are different than what has been done to date." He projects that MGM will announce the first quarter 2002 release date in the next month or so. In a statement reported by the The Hollywood Reporter, Rollerball director John McTiernan offered, "I'm very pleased with the studio's decision. It's exactly what I've wanted for some time. I look forward to working with Bob Levin and his team on the release of the film." Now that Rollerball has (somewhat) a new lease on life, let's hope they get things in order. I really want to like this film, but it's obvious that Rollerball and its marketing need a new transmission.

Visit our Special Rollerball Page

It has been proven that a good vibe on the Internet can go a long way towards making a movie successful. Take for instance Tomb Raider. It had tons of online coverage due, obviously, to its high level of prior familiarity. It's a clunker of a movie, and still it grosses $100 mil. Rollerball may not have the built-in critic-proof audience that Tomb Raider has, but it can get on the path. Mr. Levin, I offer my humble advice: don't wait until the month before the movie opens to start selling it online. Big mistake. Start online marketing now. Why? Because it's not like people are knocking down your door trying to find out about Rollerball. This isn't Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman, Spiderman or anything like that. There's a community here that will let interest in your movie grow if you plant some seeds with relative frequency. Right now this isn't happening because there are few online who really know about this film, and those who do aren't saying many positive things about it. You've got a hill to climb. 

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Make sure the official site,, is updated frequently. It shows that there's life behind this film. (Right now, it's pretty dead.) Show us that you care. Give your audience a reason to stop in from time to time. Every couple of days, add a new photo from the movie; a new character profile; a new story about the league; a new cast or crew interview. Whatever. Something here, something there. What it adds up to is a chance for us all to periodically talk about Rollerball, learn about it, get interested in it, get psyched about it. Come on... It's SF. It's action. It's John McTiernan. It has built-in interest with the online community, and this hasn't been tapped. That's shameful marketing.

MGM could have been kicking ass in generating interest in Rollerball, especially online, since last November, but they didn't. They dropped the rollerball, so to speak. Now you have until first quarter 2002. Start now. React to the test screening concerns. Re-edit, re-mix and re-market online like a bat out of hell. Make music videos for LL Cool J, Slipknot and Pink, but don't bank on MTV for audience acceptance. Make it known that these things are happening and this will breathe life into Rollerball by opening its world to your audience.


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