Sweeney Todd is not for everybody, but the folks at DreamWorks and Paramount are trying to make it be. First came word of the PG-13 clean ups the studio is insisting upon for the movie. Now the studio is pushing the movie to a wide release for December 21st instead of the previous limited opening plan followed by a wider build in January.

Yesterday came the news that director Tim Burton was feeling studio pressure to clean up some of the blood and guts in his adaptation of a butcherous barber who kills clientele and then dumps the bodies with his partner, who makes them into pies. Part of this clean up request was due to Johnny Depp’s involvement. The Captain Jack Sparrow actor plays the lead in Todd as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street – a role the studio is hoping to turn into an equally iconic figure for the actor. Making that happen means more people have to see the movie, so the first step was making it more accessible as far as content goes.

The second step came today, making the film more accessible as far as prints go, as Variety announced the change in distribution plans for the flick. Now Stephen Sondheim’s musical will see a wide release in time for Christmas… because slit throats and cannabalism goes hand in hand with Santa and the birth of Christ.

I think DreamWorks/Paramount is making a huge mistake attempting to push this like they are. Just based on the storyline, this is a gruesome story. Even the musical on stage doesn’t cater to as wide an audience as, say, Wicked or other successful Broadway shows. Add in the ridiculous holiday release plan (which is completely counter programming as far as releasing Sweeney Todd goes) and you not only don’t have a blockbuster success, you have a Grindhouse style failure.

I still think Sweeney Todd can be fantastic, but I don’t think a wider release will draw any more people into theaters than would already have seen the flick. Thankfully, I’m already one of those people, so I’ll be there to see it. I just might be one of the only seats in the theater.

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