Warner Bros. Pictures is reported to be actively doubling-down on its intellectual property (IP)-based movies, after having released a number of expensive standalone films that under-performed at the box office in 2015 (see Jupiter Ascending, Pan, In the Heart of the Sea). Among the franchises that the studio is banking on are the DC Extended Universe that kicked off with Man of Steel in 2013 and continued with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice this year, as well as the rebooted Godzilla franchise that was started by director Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (released in 2014).
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' Kong: Skull Island (a re-imagining of the King Kong property set in the Vietnam era) is coming out in March 2017 and will tie into the events of Godzilla, paving the way for the release of Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020. However, before those sky-scraping titans clash on the big screen (again), Edwards will release a sequel to his 2014 Godzilla film (tentatively known as Godzilla 2) - albeit, one year before Godzilla vs. Kong arrives, rather than two years earlier as originally planned.
WB has formally moved Godzilla 2 from its previously-set June 8th, 2018 theatrical release date to March 22nd, 2019 instead. The move should benefit the Godzilla sequel at the box office, since it will no longer have to face-off with the Transformers franchise's Bumblebee spinoff during its opening weekend, as would've happened had it stayed on its original June date. It is currently the only major tentpole arriving on its new March date.
Meanwhile, Godzilla vs. Kong now has a firm release date: May 29th, 2020, to be exact. Said Godzilla and King Kong showdown (which, at the time of writing this, doesn't have a director attached) is now set to open in theaters four weeks after a tentatively-untitled Marvel Studios film kicks off that year's summer movie season. In addition, WB has shifted its DCEU Green Lantern film, titled Green Lantern Corps, back a month from June 19th to July 24th, 2020. That move in particular seems designed to give Godzilla vs. Kong extra room to breathe at the box office by the time 2020 rolls around, more than anything else.
Last, but not least, WB has also scheduled an untitled "Event" film to open in theaters on December 25th, 2018. The studio hadn't previously set any movies to arrive that month, though a date in November 2018 remains reserved for the potential Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sequel. One possibility for the Christmas Day 2018 date now claimed by WB is Space Jam 2, a movie that we recently learned would see LeBron James join forces with the Looney Tunes, most likely under the direction of Justin Lin (Fast & Furious).
Edwards is currently in post-production on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but the plan was always for him to make the Godzilla sequel after he finished Rogue One (the first of multiple Star Wars anthology movies being planned by Disney and Lucasfilm). Godzilla 2 being shifted from 2018 to 2019 is a move that not only allows the film to avoid the heavier box office competition of June, but also lets WB better space out its tentpoles over the next couple of years - so that it always has a new "event" movie arriving in theaters every 1-2 months. Don't be surprised if WB changes the release date for the Dwayne Johnson-headlined Shazam DCEU movie in the future for released reasons, since it's now set to hit theaters just two weeks after Godzilla 2.
Kong: Skull Island opens in U.S. theaters on March 10, 2017, followed by Godzilla 2 on March 22, 2019, and Godzilla vs. Kong on May 29, 2020.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures [via The Wrap]