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Sony Opening ‘The Tourist’ in December

Sony also sets release date for Roland Emmerich’s ”Anonymous“and pushes back ”Underworld 4.“

“The Tourist"s' opening has been moved up to Dec. 10, Sony Pictures said on Wednesday.

In part the move will allow the film to qualify for Oscars and will improve its commercial prospects.

The Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp vehicle did not previously have a spot on the release calendar, although the consensus was that the film would open sometime in 2011.

In shifting the release date, Sony was reacting to an enthusiastic response among studio executives to an early screening of the movie, according to an individual with knowledge of the production.

There is also a sense that the film, which cost a reported $70 million, is well-equipped to compete during the holiday season. Sony seems pretty confident it has a hit on its hand, despite the fact that star driven films have seen their box office prospects wane in recent years (it doesn't hurt that Depp has been immune to that particular fallout).

In its December slot, “The Tourist” will square off against “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and “The Fighter,” David O. Russell’s boxing drama and another likely awards contender.

Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who won a foreign language Oscar for his 2007 film “The Lives of Others,” "The Tourist" is a remake of a French film. It was briefly stuck in development hell, while stars such as Tom Cruise and Sam Worthington circled and abandoned it.

Sony also announced it will release Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous,” which questions the authorship of William Shakespeare’s plays, on March 25, 2011.  The drama by the "Independence Day" director stars Vanessa Redgrave, Rhys Ifans, and Derek Jacobi.

“Underworld 4” has been moved back from Sept. 23, 2011 to Jan. 20, 2012, Sony also announced.