In addition to its lucrative Fast & Furious and Fifty Shades of Grey franchises, Universal Pictures is broadening its blockbuster appeal in the coming years. The studio is building a shared universe based on classic monsters, which will include last year's Dracula Untold and the upcoming The Mummy. Additionally, Universal is releasing two Legendary Pictures films in 3D as part of their five-year deal: Warcraft, based on the online role-playing game, and Pacific Rim 2.
At CinemaCon this week, Universal announced release dates for Fast & Furious 8 as well as the two Fifty Shades of Grey sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Additionally, the studio unveiled new or changed release dates for its other upcoming features.
Universal revealed both Legendary films will be pushed back a few months, Warcraft from March 11th, 2016 to June 10th, 2016, and Pacific Rim 2 from April 7th, 2017 to August 4th, 2017. As for the monster movies, The Mummy was pushed from June 24th, 2016 to March 24th, 2017, and an untitled monster film was moved from April 21st, 2017 to March 30th, 2018.
Furthermore, Universal announced Mena, the thriller headlined by Tom Cruise, will debut January 6th, 2017. Variety is reporting that Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is in talks to join the feature, which will reunite Cruise with Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman. Gleeson has risen in popularity in the past few years, which is reflected in his schedule that includes Ex Machina, The Revenant, and, of course, Star Wars 7.
Warcraft and Pacific Rim 2 being pushed a few months lands both films in prime summer movie season slots. With Warcraft debuting in June and Pacific Rim 2 in the early-August date made popular by Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy last year, Universal seems to have scheduled these films aiming to appeal to summer blockbuster fans.
Of course, with all movie studios across the board pushing for bigger blockbusters, more release dates, and broadening shared universes, Universal’s summer features will certainly have contenders at the box office. For instance, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will open the weekend before Warcraft, with Star Trek 3 arriving a few weeks later. Both sequels will likely be big competitors for the Legendary/Universal film.
That being said, Universal seems to be positioning all their releases so that the features will have as much chance to bring in audiences as possible. With the summer movie season becoming so saturated in blockbusters, moving The Mummy and the untitled monster film to March releases may prove to open them up to more viewers. However, whether this new schedule is in fact successful remains to be seen.
Warcraft will premiere June 10th, 2016. Then, Mena will hit theaters January 6th, 2017. Fifty Shades Darker will follow on February 10th, 2017; The Mummy on March 24th, 2017; Fast & Furious 8 on April 14th, 2017; Pacific Rim 2 on August 4th, 2017; Fifty Shades Freed on February 9th, 2018; and the untitled monster film on March 30th, 2018.
Source: Universal, Variety