Disney has announced that a new Star Wars movie will release on December 16, 2022, putting it on a direct collision course with Warner Bros.' planned DC sequel, Aquaman 2. While the first solo adventure featuring Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry was unquestionably a success, grossing more than $1 billion worldwide, it's basically inevitable that Warner Bros. will change Aquaman 2's release date in response to Disney's Star Wars announcement.
We don't yet know exactly what 2022's Star Wars movie will be. Lucasfilm has two new trilogies in development: one from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and one from Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. The main Skywalker saga is concluding this year with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and after that it seems likely that Disney will continue to alternate between ongoing stories and standalone spinoffs like Rogue One and Solo.
Aquaman 2 was officially announced in February 2019, with a planned release date of December 16, 2022. While Disney announcing a Star Wars movie on the same date might seem like a hostile move, it's actually more like a simple decision not to flinch in a game of chicken that Warner Bros. started. That pre-Christmas release window has been Star Wars territory for almost all of the Disney-era Star Wars movies, with The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and this year's The Rise of Skywalker all releasing on that same mid-December weekend. 2018 was the exception, with Aquaman allowed to swim free in Star Wars-less waters after Solo got a May release date instead.
Because of its nature as the biggest fish in the Hollywood pond (yes, we're continuing with the aquatic metaphors), Disney tends to pick its preferred release dates for tentpole movies, with other studios taking care to avoid conflict. A notable exception was Avengers: Infinity War, whose release date was pushed forward by a week, most likely to prevent its box office potential from being dampened by the release of Deadpool 2. Now, however, Disney owns Deadpool's parent studio Fox as well, so it's little wonder that the House of Mouse has so confidently laid out its plans for the next several years.
At this point, it's pretty much guaranteed that Warner Bros. will change Aquaman 2's release date. The first movie may have been a huge box office success, but Star Wars movies and superhero movies hit all the same audience demographics, and it would be self-sabotaging to try and directly compete. We probably won't hear about a release date change until closer to the time (when Warner Bros. knows exactly what those other untitled movies on Disney's schedule are), but expect Aquaman 2 to move either backwards or forwards by at least a week.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022