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Happy Death Day 2U release date changed follow petition from Parkland shooting victim's father

Happy Death Day 2U has a brand-new release date — and for a good reason. 

Universal Pictures confirmed on Thursday that it had shifted the debut of the upcoming horror sequel from February 14 to February 13 to avoid the first anniversary of the mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

The studio was motivated to move Happy Death Day 2U up a day following a social media petition lodged by one of the victim's fathers. In a tweet posted earlier this week, Fred Guttenberg — whose daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 people killed during the massacre on February 14, 2018 — drew attention to the fact that Happy Death Day 2U's original launch date fell on the same day the Parkland shooting did.

"My daughter and 16 others were killed on February 14th. Universal Studios is releasing a move a movie called Happy Death Day 2 U?  I get the pun on Valentines Day, for me it will always be the day my daughter was murdered. Please reconsider this!!!!" Guttenberg wrote in a post that, as of this writing, has amassed more than 4,000 likes and over 1,500 retweets. 

Directed by Christopher Landon and produced by the famous film house of horror Blumhouse Productions, Happy Death Day 2U follows college student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), who finds herself trapped in the exact murderous time loop she thought she escaped at the end of the original film. The slasher sequel sees Tree reliving the same day — her birthday — over and over again while a serial killer stalks and ultimately succeeds in killing her. Once she dies, the loop is reset, and it's only through identifying the murderer and slaying them that Tree can break the sequence and move on with her life. This time around, however, Tree isn't the only target. The killer, revealed as Tree's roommate in the first Happy Death Day, is someone completely new — someone who is out for both Tree's blood and the lives of her friends. 

As Guttenberg noted, it's likely that the reason why Universal selected February 14 as the planned debut for Happy Death Day 2U was to play up the Valentine's Day holiday. (The title of both the original and the follow-up film are a wink at "happy birthday" and "happy birthday to you," so it's obvious Universal likes its puns.) For Guttenberg and those whose loved ones died during the Parkland shooting, February 14 isn't a day of celebration but an anniversary of a tragedy. 

Once Universal learned that the film's intended release would come one year to the day after the devastating event, and once executives came across Guttenberg's appeal, the studio swiftly shifted Happy Death Day 2U up a day. 

Said Universal in a statement (via ComicBook.com), "When Universal Pictures became aware last week that the one-year anniversary of the tragic events in Parkland, Florida fell on the Happy Death Day 2U release date, the studio spoke with victim advocates and immediately began the process of changing the release date of the film. Following discussions with its partners in exhibition, Universal will move the North American release date to February 13. Additionally, the studio has decided not to show the film in Parkland and the surrounding areas. Outdoor, digital, and in-theatre marketing for the film will be suspended in that market. The studio understands the importance of memorializing the February 14 date as an opportunity to continue to allow the Parkland community to heal."

Following the announcement of the release date change, Guttenberg again took to Twitter to express his relief and share his approval of Universal's decision. 

"Very happy to announce that I just got off the phone with executives at Universal Studios," he tweeted. "They will be moving the release date of the movie off of February 14th and they will also be taking steps to address the local needs of the Parkland community. This was a great outcome."

It's wonderful that Universal took initiative to make things right and be respectful of those who lost daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and friends in the Parkland shooting. Though we doubt this was on the studio's mind when executives made the call to move Happy Death Day 2U up a day, the decision is actually mutually beneficial, as it gives the sequel film an extra day at the box office.

Those keen to see Happy Death Day 2U can do so starting Wednesday, February 13.