What’s with Summit refusing to announce a theatrical opening date for Kathryn Bigelow ‘s The Hurt Locker ? They’ve had this landmark war thriller since the acquisition was announced almost five months ago but they’ve steadfastly refused to say when. Pussyfooting on a theatrical release date is odd enough six months out, but it’s bizarre when the film in question is this good.

I realize that Lionsgate’s rumored purchase of Summit may have some bearing, but it still feels weird that Summit never announced a date. It suggests that they believe they’ve got a hot potato on their hands. Which of course it isn’t — it’s brilliant.

A couple of just-announced festival dates suggests the release date has to be in late March or early April. The Hurt Locker, I’ve learned, will have a special screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on 3.5. It’s also been announced that it’ll show as a premiere attraction at South by Southwest, which runs from 3.13 to 3.22. Whenever a film with a solid distributor makes the rounds at festivals and high-profile screening series, an opening is never far off. All I got from Summit publicity chief Vivian Mayer is that an announced date “isn’t far off.”

The only possible monkey wrench I can imagine is the Lionsgate acquisition deal. But if things were truly up in the air the two afore-mentioned bookings wouldn’t have been made.