March 19, 2003 01:00 PM

If the United States ends up at war with Iraq, heading to the multiplex may not be first thing on most people’s minds. But for the studios, the show must go on.

Although the second half of March isn’t traditionally a busy season for new releases, a number of films remain set to open over the next couple weeks regardless of what happens in Iraq, studios executives tell Reuters.

Among the upcoming films: Warner Bros.’s “Dreamcatcher,” an adaptation of the Stephen King novel starring Morgan Freeman and Donnie Wahlberg.

“We don’t know how we will be impacted, but there’s the possibility that if we go to war we will see some residual effect at the box office,” a Warner Bros. executive tells Reuters.

Also on Friday, Miramax’s “A View From the Top” opens, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mike Myers.

But with the threat of war looming, just what that means for the entertainment industry is anyone’s guess. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has already vowed to press ahead with its 75th annual awards show, while the television networks have one eye on their schedules and another on the Iraq situation.

“We looked at the early ’90s and some other similar times to see the impact from these situations,” a DreamWorks executive tells Reuters. “There’s (usually) an initial negative impact. But after that, it seems that people get tired of watching the news.”

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