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Bill Pullman, left, and Chris Pine in "Bottle Shock." The film's August release date tags it as flawed.

OK, apparently I need to give at least a few readers a quick refresher course in what I like to call Movie Scheduling 101.

In the past couple of weeks, I've gotten some e-mails, queries and comments in regards to a few columns, blog items and other articles that referred to August as a cinematic "dumping ground."

It's not just me being cynical. Typically August is one of those months — January and October being the others — in which studios release films that are deemed as being either "flawed" or "inferior." They're movies from which even the studios don't expect big things.

As an example, this month alone, we've seen the release of "Swing Vote," "The Midnight Meat Train," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," "Death Race," "Bottle Shock," "The Longshots," "The House Bunny," "Mirrors" and "Hamlet 2."

And this Friday's releases include "Babylon A.D.," "College" and "Disaster Movie."

There has also been a whole slew of Wednesday openings this month, with "Pineapple Express," "The Rocker," "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" and "Tropic Thunder."

Given the quality of most, if not all, of these, films, do you really wonder why I've been calling August a "dumping ground?"

OF COURSE ...

One of sequels to the 2002 hit "The Bourne Identity" — "The Bourne Ultimatum" — was released last August. And that film does live up to the quality of its two predecessors.

But it's worth nothing that the original "Mummy" was released in May 1999. And the recent "three-quel," "Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," was easily the worst of this series. It was released in August.

(Also, an equally awful "Scorpion King" spin-off "prequel" went straight to DVD. In August.)

MORE "MONTHLY" OBSERVATIONS.

If a film opens in May, June, July, November or December, a studio has to feel pretty good about its chances.

In fact, December releases are expected to be contenders for yearly awards, since they have to open by the end of the year to qualify for Academy Awards consideration.

And it's become a contest between the studios to have the first movie released in May (the original "Mummy," "Spider-Man" and "Iron Man" both scored in that position).

THEY'LL GET OVER IT.

"Harry Potter" fans are up in arms about a release-date change for the sixth movie, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." The fantasy was expected to be one of this fall's biggest films.

Warner Bros. recently released the first full theatrical trailer, which can be seen with "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." And the film was the cover feature in Entertainment Weekly's "Fall Movie Preview" issue.

Oops. The film was originally scheduled to open Nov. 21, but Warner Bros. officials recently bumped it to July 17 instead. That might not be a bad move, since the studio's blockbuster "The Dark Knight" steamrolled with a July release date.

Besides, this way the film won't have to go toe-to-toe with the movie version of "Twilight," which appeals to much of the same audience.


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