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In a cry for help not-so-curiously coinciding with this week's surge in comics-to-film blockbusters, Lionsgate announced Tuesday that it plans to bump up Frank Miller's adaptation of The Spirit from Jan. 16, 2009, to Dec. 25 of this year. And why not? Flanked by fellow Christmas Day releases Bedtime Stories (an Adam Sandler "laffer") and Fox's wobbly Jennifer Aniston/Owen Wilson comedy Marley and Me (not to mention the expanded release of Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon), the Will Eisner crime-fighter is about as safe a late year counter-programming bet as the studio will get. But are there — gulp — Oscar hopes?

God, we hope not. While we're sure Ken Tucker will be chiming in any minute now with his Iron Man vs. Spirit early Oscar-race handicapping, we have no doubt that Lionsgate will keep this one fairly straightforward — perhaps an ironic marketing surge positioning Scareltt Johansson "for your consideration" as Sexiest Nurse, or maybe Gabriel Macht as Most Overmatched Leading Man. In any case, we salute a studio with the balls to move a release up a month while the rest of the world makes excuses for its delays. We've already suggested Disney should be so bold. Pussies.