A Summit snitch informs that a company-wide email was circulated yesterday announcing that Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Hurt Locker will get a slow-build release starting on June 26. New York and LA first, and then 200 screens around the country and so on. I’ve e-mailed the Summit spokesperson but she won’t be responding for another two or three hours (i.e., probably still sleeping) so let’s just run this for now and wait. But I’ve been told by a second source (i.e., a good one) that this story is accurate.

This is excellent news, if true, as it implies that Summit seems to finally understand that The Hurt Locker isn’t an Iraq War film but a kind of monster movie (the paradigm being James Cameron‘s Aliens), and that it needs to be sold as such. Or at least as a half-Aliens, half-reality hybrid.

The limited 6.26 break will happen opposite My Sister’s Keeper and Surveillance; further competition will commence on 7.1 with Ice Age and Michael Mann‘s Public Enemies. It will then go up against Sasha Baron Cohen‘s Bruno with the July 10th expansion. On 7.17 comes Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (kids), 500 Days of Summer and a limited All The Boys Love Mandy Lane opening, leaving Hurt Locker‘s gritty action lure unchallenged.

What was that rumble about a late August break, which came from Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner via Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas? Douglas reported that during a Hurt Locker presentation at New York ComicCon, which happened on the weekend of 2.7, “someone from the audience yelled out to Renner when the movie was coming out, and he yelled back ‘late August!'”

Unless Douglas misheard or unless Renner is coping with some major self-delusion issue, Renner was probably told about a late August release by his agent or someone else in the loop and simply passed it along.

Perhaps Summit had decided as much then reconsidered after people (myself included) pointed out that it was fairly insane to open Hurt Locker against 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)? Which would have made The Hurt Locker third in line that month and facing an audience that would be almost certainly be feeling well-fed if not sated as far as bullets, tanks and helmets are concerned.

In any event, a limited June 26th break — if true — is an excellent way to go.