Rare is the summer blockbuster that doesn’t announce itself by Super Bowl weekend. Part of franchise filmmaking is branding, and getting the word out there is exceptionally important to keep people interested in big movies. Tim Burton‘s Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp, has yet to release a poster or a trailer, yet is still supposedly set for a May 11 release. We have more pictures after the jump, but I wouldn’t bet on it coming out in two months.

Before I go any further, it’s worth noting that David Selby makes an appearance in these stills. Selby was a regular on the original show, which means they are paying some homage to the original. He’s the man behind Michelle Pfieffer. The images come thanks to Cine Marcado.

Warner Brothers is in a tricky situation here if they do want to move the picture, which may be why they haven’t announced a move yet. They have Gravity listed as their Thanksgiving picture, and it stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, and is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and in December they have both The Hobbit and The Great Gatsby. In June they have Rock of Ages and in July they have The Dark Knight Rises, so any sort of small delay would mean stepping on their own toes.

The problem is that the film is an “A” picture in that it’s got a successful director and a one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Walter Hill’s Bullet in the Head just bumped from April to October, but  the move says nothing about that film, and the original release date felt like a place holder. With Shadows, if you bump that to an off season it looks bad, while most of 2013 is already blocked out for its blockbuster season. So WB is up against a rock and a hard place as it has to decide whether it wants to release the film with less than two months of marketing behind it, or if it wants to move to later 2012 and possibly get in the way of the films they already have scheduled, or if they push it off a year.

The problem is that moving a year out means that they set up expectations the film doesn’t work. Which they may have already gone through with Jack the Giant Killer, which also moved out of summer 2012 after a trailer that left most audiences cold. The question if it sticks to a May release is: is the Dark Shadows brand big enough to build excitement on its own? My guess is the answer is no, and that they move the picture. That may also be why we haven’t seen a trailer yet. But as I described above, it’s going to be hard to find it a new home without re-arranging the schedules.

Dark Shadows will have to be locked in the next couples weeks if it is to come out, as it would have to screen by the start of May. If we don’t see a trailer or hear about a date change by next week, I would be shocked.

Are you excited for Dark Shadows?