With the success of The Avengers, Marvel Studios is confident in taking bigger risks going forward, and evidently, is beginning to experiment using “Phase Two” to see just how powerful their brand is. Not only are obscure and otherworldly properties such as Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy getting the greenlight (not too mention, Doctor Strange), but for the first time since its inception as a self-financed production house, Marvel Studios is going to begin releasing films outside of the key summer movie season.
Iron Man 3 takes its normal slot, leading the summer by opening on the first weekend of May, but after that, Marvel ventures into uncharted territory. Thor: The Dark World releases in November and next year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier tests out a spring release date in April while Guardians of the Galaxy takes an usual August slot.
The strangest part is that Marvel intentionally shifted their 2014 movies to these spots, and away from traditional summer weekends they had previously claimed before even announcing which films were coming out for that year.
Thor 2 (later subtitled The Dark World) was originally scheduled to release July 26 this summer until later changing dates twice to where it sits now on November 8th. The following year, Marvel Studios had officially claimed the weekends of May 16th, 2014 and June 27th, 2014 – big money, big blockbuster summer dates.
Captain America 2 (later subtitled The Winter Soldier) was officially given an April 2014 release date a few weeks before The Avengers hit theaters, moving ahead instead of coming out mid-May, and after the release of The Avengers, moved the unannounced Guardians of the Galaxy from its June 2014 slot further back to August. We figured Marvel may just be testing the waters with spring, post-summer and fall release dates for when and if they can increase production to more than two films a year.
The Captain America sequel was scheduled to begin shooting in March (next month) but as we’ve learned from Feature Film Casting, it’s being delayed a few months to June. What that equates to is two months of lost production time and a 10-month start-to-finish timeline. We’ve reached out to Disney for confirmation on the Captain America: The Winter Soldier production start date, but assuming that is the case, there’s a slight chance that the film could see a change in release date although it’s unlikely when browsing the summer 2014 slate.
Looking back on the original 2014 dates Marvel targeted, the May 16th weekend is occupied with the Godzilla reboot – although that could be hampered by the ongoing legal dispute between its producers and Legendary Pictures – and the June 27th weekend now houses Michael Bay’s Transformers 4. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kicking off summer 2014 and X-Men: Days of Future Past sitting in mid-July, Marvel won’t compete against its own brand. All of the May-July weekends have at least one high-profile feature and quite a few (at least six) of them are Marvel and/or Disney produced.
For anyone concerned with the film being rushed, The Avengers began filming and was ready for theatrical release less than a year later. The trick is in the planning and pre-production which Marvel is comfortable with. As an example, before shooting even began, Whedon had ILM working away on the battle of New York sequence and Hulk effects. Concepts and designs of characters, weapons, locations, action sequences are rendered by Marvel artists long before shooting even begins, so the special effects heavy shots are already in the works before the Russo brothers start shooting.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015 and Doctor Strange sometime after that.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
Source: Feature Film Casting
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