For whatever reason, Paramount decided to reshuffle their entire release schedule today.  Many see the hand of Vantage’s John Lesher at work; as I happen to think Lesher’s a very sensible man, I’m wondering when he turned into Brad Grey.

The big news is J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek vacating its Christmas ’08 berth for a less splashy May 8, 2009 debut.  The studio explains this away as an opportunity to maximize the film’s gross potential in the summer – which I’d buy if it weren’t suddenly sandwiched between X-Men Origami: Wolverine and Angels and Demons (aka Hanks Hair Rises Again).  There’s also Jerry Bruckheimer’s G-Force hanging out on May 1 to siphon off the family audience.  But what’s the sense of moving off a big moviegoing holiday (followed by another profitable holiday in New Year’s) for a front-loaded three-day opening?  It’d be easier to hold screens in January than in May and June.  And while June ’09 isn’t too cluttered yet, give the studios time; if Star Trek isn’t all things to all geeks (and too esoteric for civilians), the DVD release will be announced by the time Transformers 2 blows speakers over the July 4th weekend.

Paramount’s other curious move has the Ben Stiller all-star comedy, Tropic Thunder, hopping forward a month from July 11, 2008 to August 15.  Guess they decided the second weekend of Pineapple Express and Eagle Eye is less threatening than the weekend prior to The Dark Knight.  If Tropic Thunder isn’t Mystery Men 2, this is probably a smart move; yes, the film would only have Hellboy II as competition on the 11th, but a late August release means you benefit from the Labor Day bump.

Paramount also announced that David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will bow on December 19th instead of November 26th.  I guess they’ll try the late December roll-out that worked so well for There Will Be Blood (and killed Dreamgirls).  Meanwhile, Vantage has claimed Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road all for its lonesome – the better to chase Oscars, my dear.

Finally, Eddie Murphy’s next family sack of shit, Nowhereland, is now set for June 12, 2009 (rather than September 26, 2008), while the Renee Zellweger thriller, Case 39, is now an April ’09 dump instead of a late August ’08 dump.

In other news, Paramount is under stable management.  Really.