UK viewers will have to wait a whole month longer than US friends to see Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the reason for it is very silly. It used to be that movies would release internationally sometimes months after they did domestically, but the gap has closed significantly in recent years, making this latest development feel rather odd. That's doubly true because this is Marvel
Usually, British fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have (along with most of the rest of the world) been lucky to see the films a week before their American counterparts. This has been the norm since 2010, when the studio releases Iron Man 2 earlier in select international markets. This gradual style of distribution is a marked contrast from other major blockbusters and studios who release their biggest titles at the same time in every major market. Marvel's approach has proven beneficial from a business point-of-view - it helps build hype, creates strong relationships with key international markets, and gives them domination over the entire year of movie releases.
Related: Ant-Man & The Wasp Trailer Breakdown
Alas, for Brits eagerly awaiting the release of Ant-Man and The Wasp, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, the wait will be that much longer. A whole month longer, to be exact. While Americans will see the movie on July 6, the UK won't see it until August 3. The explanation for this makes some sense... but not much.
Marvel Don't Want to Compete with the 2018 World Cup
The 2018 World Cup takes place in Russia this Summer, and Marvel Studios have decided they would rather not compete with the biggest sporting event of the year, at least not when it comes to the UK. As happens every four years, the World Cup is seen as such a big deal in Britain that it's expected to completely zap cinema attendances this Summer. Other major films have followed suit, including Disney's The Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which have moved their release dates just the UK.
This is common-ish practice, but with such high-profile films affected feels particularly strange this year. The Brits sure do love soccer (or football, depending on where you’re from), but this move seems a tad short-sighted. The national obsession with the sport still has its limits, and the country certainly doesn't grind to a halt because of it.
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Not everyone is a football fan either, and for those who dislike the sport, the chance to get away from the TV and watch something else is incredibly enticing. But, let's be honest, not even the most optimistic soccer fan expects England to get all that far in the tournament (while Scots are happy to root for anyone except England). By the time the team are knocked out - and nobody's expecting that to take very long - interest in the tournament will inevitably tumble.
That captive audience of sports fans also offers a major missed opportunity for Marvel, and indeed all of the major studios. All those eyes glued to the TV means millions of potential customers watching the very highly priced adverts in the commercial breaks. Surely it would be a savvy move to market the movie during this period, and have it ready while audiences are still excited?
What About Spoilers?
The other major problem this creates is one of spoilers. Avoiding spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War was tough enough for some fans when there was only a one-day gap between cross-Atlantic releases. Imagine doing it for a whole month. This seems like a problem for Marvel in terms of potential audiences: if you were on the fence about seeing it, then saw spoilers, perhaps you wouldn't be all that bothered about waiting a month to see the film for yourself. Given Ant-Man's status as one of the lesser Marvel titles in terms of fan enthusiasm, this could pose issues for the film. Fans and critics were more willing to keep Infinity War's secrets under wraps given the enormity of the film, but there's less emotion surrounding Ant-Man and the Wasp in that regard.
Of course, this is a Marvel movie, and there's no question that it will do well at the box office. Ant-Man managed to overcome behind-the-scenes drama, a change of directors and seeming audience ambivalence to make $519m worldwide. Ant-Man and the Wasp may be considered a minor title in the MCU but it’s still part of the most successful franchise ever. It would certainly be able to handle its own against the World Cup. As understandable as Marvel’s decision has been, it’s still an annoyance for those Brits who love superheroes and don’t care about sports.
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019