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BAD TIMING

"The Time Machine" is leaping forward to February.

The film adaptation of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic has been moved from a Dec. 25 release to Feb. 8, 2003, the trade newspaper Variety reported Monday.

Studio executives said they decided to change the release date before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, which prompted an industrywide re-evaluation of TV shows and movies.

But the extra time will allow filmmakers to alter a scene in which fragments of the moon fall on New York City, Variety reported.

Guy Pearce, best known for roles in "Memento" and "L.A. Confidential," stars as the scientist who invents a time-travel device that sends him 800,000 years into the future.

DreamWorks executives said they postponed the film's release out of concern that it would face too much competition from other Christmas releases.

"Things are so crowded in the holiday period that we felt we'd have a better chance elsewhere," said Mark Christianson, a DreamWorks distribution executive.

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