Marvel has officially moved Avengers: Infinity War's U.S. release date a week earlier from May 4 to April 27. It may only be seven days, but when you're dealing with a film of this size and so close to release - it's now less than two months away - that's a major shift. Why have Marvel - or, more accurately, Disney - chosen to do this?
After all, Marvel's owned the first weekend of May release slot since The Avengers in 2012, with the only gap being 2014 where Captain America: The Winter Soldier released in April and Guardians of the Galaxy in July. Considering Joss Whedon's first uniting of Earth's Mightiest Heroes remains Marvel Studios biggest release to this day, it seemed crazy to mess with the formula. Yet that's exactly what they've done here.
There's been no official word on why the change has been made - it was announced via a Twitter conversation between Marvel and Iron Man himself, Robert Downey, Jr., framed as a request from the actor - but looking at the packed May it's moving away from and the wider state of Marvel and Disney, we have a pretty good idea.
This Page: Avengers Now Has Even Less Competition
The Move Gives Infinity War Three Weeks To Dominate
May is one of the biggest moviegoing months - even as the traditional Summer season begins to adjust - and at one point was going to see the release of three major tentpoles: Infinity War on May 4, Deadpool 2 on May 18, and Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25. We'll come back to Han later as his relationship to the Avengers is more complicated, but the Merc with a Mouth provides reason enough by himself.
The first Deadpool was a smash hit, breaking records for both R-rated movies and its February release (the latter was since surpassed by Black Panther). This unprecedented success led to screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick saying the film could release at any point in 2018 and not feel the heat. Fox put their money where their mouth was in January when they moved the film from an original June 2 release back two weeks to May 18. This felt to be a pivot around Solo, but also meant the film could potentially mop up the dregs from Infinity War.
It's unlikely that Disney were actually intimidated by Fox's move, but it nevertheless kneecapped Avengers 3's long-term chances: this is a movie not only pegged for a top-level opening weekend, but impressive legs in the weeks to follow. To have Deadpool 2 dropping on its third weekend greatly hurts that - they play to somewhat different audiences due to rating but still fall under the superhero genre - and risks the film not having the same sustained success as its predecessors: The Avengers and Age of Ultron both had nearly a month without comparable competition.
Solo Now Has Less Competition
But Solo also plays a part, although a more corporate one than Deadpool 2. Marvel and Lucasfilm are both owned by Disney, and so there's an underlying desire for corporate synergy (indeed, the reason the Star Wars Story is coming out in Summer instead of December seems to be to make way for Disney's Mary Poppins Returns). Avengers 3 moving gives an advantage point to Solo - and advantage point it sorely needs.
The Han Solo movie may be part of the all-powerful Star Wars brand, but is the subject of intense scrutiny thanks to its director shakeup and long-standing question over the story's need to be told. Put that at the end of a month that's already featured two of the most anticipated films of 2018 and there's an uphill battle. Now Infinity War is five weeks before it, Marvel is essentially out of the equation. Although box office is only half the story...
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