Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios made sure to mark their long-term territory just a day before before rival Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment released Man of Steel to great box office success, ensuring that their own upcoming slate of films maintain their key summer dates, before WB potentially announced their own upcoming slate of DC Universe movies. After the sequels to Thor, Captain America and The Avengers release, and after introducing new characters in Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, Marvel already had another two projects greenlit behind-the-scenes for the beginnings of summer 2016 and summer 2017.
The timing also coincides with the studio's upcoming presence at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 where it's a safe bet Marvel Studios' unreleased films coming this year and next will be presented to fans along with more hints and reveals towards the franchise's future. We knew these two mysterious dates were just a part of the puzzle since Marvel Studios is aiming for at least two features per year, and today, Disney selected a second date for July 8, 2016 for another unannounced Marvel movie.
Of the solo character films released so far by Marvel Studios, Thor made the most money outside of Iron Man, so it's likely that with Iron Man 4 not currently in the cards the studio may position the third Chris Hemsworth vehicle and followup to Thor: The Dark World for one of the two key May summer dates. Knowing The Avengers 3 is unofficially official - and that Robert Downey Jr. is signed for it - we expect Thor 3 to debut after Ant-Man as the second chapter in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That would mean Thor 3 releases May 6, 2016 with the July 8, 2016 slot likely going to a new property.
Marvel Studios will not use the most important and profitable weekend (first weekend of May) of the summer to launch an unknown such as The Inhumans, Black Panther or Doctor Strange, so they'll use the May summer slots (previously held by the Iron Man films, Thor 1 and The Avengers) for a sure-fire success such as Thor or Captain America. These are the flagship titles in between each Avengers team-up now that Iron Man is out of the way. And just like the first sequels to Thor and Captain America are separated by a year, with Thor again coming first, we expect a similar structure in Phase Three.
Don't be surprised to see Marvel Studios, during their Thor: The Dark World panel at Comic-Con in a few weeks, to announce Thor 3 and Doctor Strange for 2016. The big question is whether or not The Avengers 3 will see a three-year gap or if it's the film to release May 2017. We don't think so, with more and more rumors and discussion adding credence to the idea of a Hulk sequel, a Black Panther film and The Inhumans. And if Guardians of the Galaxy is as big as Marvel is hoping it can be, it needs a Phase Three sequel as well.
Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters, 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 unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes what Marvel movies should come in 2016!
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