20th Century Fox reached a new financial benchmark in 2014; the studio announced yesterday that it earned a record $5.5 billion in global ticket sales last year, in no insignificant amount thanks to the one-two punch of X-Men: Days of Future Past and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The studio then took advantage of the moment and set the official release date for X-Men solo film Gambit in 2016, while also revealing the next Apes installment will arrive in 2017 instead of 2016.
... But Fox's franchise announcements didn't end there. The studio also shifted its Fantastic Four movie reboot sequel's release date up by a month to June 2nd, 2017, sandwiching it between two anticipated animated IPs: Warner Bros.' LEGO Batman (one week earlier) and DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 3 (one week later).
The Fantastic Four reboot (from Chronicle director Josh Trank and Days of Future Past screenwriter Simon Kinberg) arrives this August, but Fox's superhero movie plans may already include the F4 characters crossing over to the expanding X-Men universe (maybe even on the 2018 date Fox previously reserved for a mystery Marvel film). That depends on Trank's F4 cinematic reboot being a critical/commercial success, even with the pre-release controversy (over casting, comic mythos changes, etc.) and the slower than expected marketing rollout.
Fox also set a new release date for potential franchise starter Assassin's Creed. The video game film adaptation was originally slated to arrive during Summer 2015, but it is now scheduled to open in theaters on December 21st, 2016. That's just five days after Lucasfilm's first Star Wars movie spinoff hits the scene, so don't be shocked if one of these films changes dates over the next two years.
Assassin's Creed has locked down an acclaimed star/producer (Michael Fassbender), an intriguing choice of director (Justin Kurzel), and a rich sci-fi mythology to draw from, which is promising news for those who are hoping it could help to usher in a renaissance in the video game cinematic genre (not exactly a genre known for its artistic merits). The project could also become Ubisoft Motion Pictures' Iron Man, so it's no surprise (but still encouraging to see) that Fox and Ubisoft are taking their time with this film.
Meanwhile, on the non-franchise side, Fox set a Christmas Day 2016 date for the Hugh Jackman-starring P.T. Barnum biographic musical The Greatest Showman on Earth, as the production (under VFX guru Michael Gracey's direction) is on track to start this year. The winter holiday frame is when the big screen musicals Les Misérables (also starring Jackman) as well as both last year's Annie and Into the Woods earned solid financial returns and (with the exception of Annie) good reviews too. We'll have to wait and see if Greatest Showman fares so well, by comparison.
Lastly, Fox has planned ahead for its romantic drama The Mountain Between Us, which is now officially set for arrival on February 10th, 2017. The movie adaptation of Charles Martin's novel will star Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) as two people who begin to develop feelings for one another, even as they struggle to survive after a plane they were on crashes in the mountains. It should be popular viewing material over Valentine's Day weekend, if nothing else.
Assassin's Creed opens in U.S. theaters on December 16th, 2016, followed by The Greatest Showman on Earth on December 25th, 2016, The Mountain Between Us on February 10th, 2017, and Fantastic Four 2 on June 2nd, 2017.
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