Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas reports that during a Hurt Locker presentation at last weekend’s New York ComicCon, someone from the audience yelled out to star Jeremy Renner when the movie was coming out, and he yelled back “late August!”

If this is true (and I do say “if”), Summit has decided to release the only Iraq War film that really works in an audience-popcorn sense — it’s Aliens — in a month that has two other big-time, hot-ticket war films — Paramount and Stephen SommersG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (8.7.09) and Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglorious Basterds (8.21.09). And If Renner’s late August projection is accurate, he would be speaking of Friday, 8.28, which would make The Hurt Locker third in line that month and facing an audience that will be almost certainly be feeling well-fed if not sated as far as bullets, tanks and helmets are concerned.

Could Summit really be contemplating opening The Hurt Locker this way? I can’t believe any smallish distributor would willingly put its own war film in competition with two other high-profile, sure-to-be-aggressively-marketed war films within a three-week period. Am I missing something? Is jumping into a genre congestion situation a strategy that has worked before, or which makes any sense to anyone?

Summit must at least be considering a Friday, 8.14 opening, which will put them second in line (right after G.I. Joe) but will also probably ensure a sharp fall-off in business when Tarantino’s film comes along a week later. Opening directly against the Tarantino would be death, of course, but if I were Summit I’d want to be far, far away from it.

I wouldn’t dream of coming out this August. All along The Hurt Locker has been a movie that has screamed (a) spring, (b) counter-programming in an especially empty or puerile mid-summer period, or (c) between Labor Day and late November. Summit has been so flaky and indecisive and under-energized about this film all along, and now this. It would be well and good if Renner was passing along bad info. Let’s hope so.

Note: Apologies for the disappearance of this and other stories earlier today.