Marvel Studios, always planning ahead and ensuring big bank, was quick to nab the opening weekend May 2016 release date three years in advance without confirming what that film will be. While there is a plan in place, it’s a seemingly flexible one since Feige and co. continue to remind us that they’re still thinking about what comes next and will be throughout this year until they’re ready to officially announce. Part of that is to not take attention away from their current projects and part of it is to lock down schedules with talent, creatives and shooting locations before they can confirm. Another part of it could be to wait and see how Captain America: The Winter Soldier does in theaters.
The Captain America sequel represents the first pre-summer release by Marvel Studios and serves as a bridge between The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. With insiders reminding us that it has the best script from the studio to date and its trailer and Comic-Con footage blowing our minds it’s possible Cap does better than Thor: The Dark World in theaters and if it does, that could potentially change the ordering of Phase 3. The same can be said for the ambitious Guardians of the Galaxy and its risky August release date – although Marvel will have announced their 2016 and 2017 features before Guardians even hits theaters.
Unless by some miracle Marvel Studios has worked out a deal with Robert Downey Jr. for a fourth Iron Man (they haven’t), it’s Thor or Captain America coming May 2016. Sorry, Hulk. With Man of Steel outperforming Thor 2 ever-so-slightly in 2013, and with the hype and buzz of Supes going head-to-head with Batman in a project that may directly setup Justice League, Marvel cannot outperform Batman vs. Superman at the worldwide box office in May 2016. They would need Iron Man 4 or another Avengers followup which are not in the cards.
Note: It’s possible Marvel Studios holds back a Cap, Thor or Guardians sequel until after The Avengers 3 (Phase 4) and makes room for a Mark Ruffalo solo Hulk movie.
So that leaves us with three options for what’s going to happen in the near future:
- Warner Bros., having already proved that their release date is flexible, delays Batman vs. Superman a little more into their proven July release date.
- Marvel Studios pushes Thor 3 to later in the summer, or like its predecessor, moves to November.
- [The Unlikely Option] WB sticks. Marvel also holds their ground, spends more than ever on marketing, and does so to take as big a bite as possible out of Warner Bros.’ most important DC movie ever.
Who’s Going To Move?
It doesn’t make much sense for both studios to fight over the same weekend, as enjoyable as that would be to watch. So who’s going to back out? Marvel, having not even announced what film is coming that weekend could feasibly move, citing that as a reason for change but that would be in exchange for the bad PR of being the studio who backed down and surrendered at the first sign of danger. If it moved earlier and took an April date like Captain America 2 it would mitigate a bit of that potential bad buzz.
The same could be said for Warner Bros. although that studio has never opened a DC film in May and at this point – is conceivably more flexible. In Hollywood, studios talk so maybe Warner Bros. agrees to move Batman vs. Superman to July if Marvel moves their own July film out of the summer entirely and to November. Warner Bros. can do whatever they want in moving that crucial release date if they coupled it with the announcement of Justice League coming the following year. How epic would that be?
The point is, someone will move. Right now we have Batman vs. Superman vs. Thor vs. X-Men vs. Apocalypse happening in May 2016 and theaters can’t hold that many big budget 3D comic book ‘event’ films. Nor can our minds handle that much potential epicness.
Batman vs. Superman is scheduled for May 6, 2016.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.