Other Influences On "Summer Movie Season"
There are other major factors to take into consideration. The potency of the Chinese box office and its ability to make or break a film remains up for debate but it’s still a key market that Disney has worked hard to cultivate. Currently, China has a quota on the number of Hollywood releases that can make their way to the nation, and there are blackout periods on the calendar where only Chinese films will be released. That quota is set to expand in the coming years, but Marvel has negotiated this problem with savvy. Black Panther launched in the country with a solid $66.5m opening weekend, making it the largest international territory for the film. The film was also the first big Hollywood title to get a Chinese release following the blackout period, which led to it receiving over half the national market share.
The knock-on effect of Summer losing its zeal is that Christmas becomes the new hot season for many studios. In many ways, the Winter slate is more jam-packed than the Summer one, and this is where some of the major blockbusters of 2018 can be found: X-Men: Dark Phoenix will go up against Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms; Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will also come out in November, preceding Robin Hood and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. 20th Century Fox moved Alita: Battle Angel to the week before Christmas, where its biggest competition will be DC's Aquaman and Paramount's Bumblebee. Historically, we’d expect these to be Summer hits, but now, Summer season is all year round.
Smaller films can benefit from this strategy too. Serious adult fare that films deemed “awards bait” are traditionally released in those “dead months” for blockbusters like September. Now, thanks to movies like Get Out – a February release – there’s greater incentive to spread the slate more evenly across the year. Months like February are no longer cinematic wastelands, which can help films big and small alike.
The Future Of Summer Movie Season
All of this leads to some interesting questions on what the future of Summer movie season looks like. The Summer of 2018 is busy, but there aren't as many franchise names or recognizable properties as one would imagine. Rather, smaller movies are getting a shot in prime July slots, with lauded indie distributors A24 latching heavily onto the season. The movies that fit that traditional blockbuster mold with Summer release dates are, to put it kindly, more schlocky dare like Dwayne Johnson's Rampage and Jason Statham's Meg. These are big films but not $200m epics in the Marvel style, so even if the Summer has a similarly disappointing box office revenue, they may fare better thanks to the lack of competition. The variety for potential viewers could be greater, which will offer a refreshing change from the old ways of release dates.
Disney is releasing Ant-Man and the Wasp on 6th July, but otherwise they have chosen to exclude themselves from the Summer movie season narrative. Summer is no longer bound by tradition when it comes to blockbuster season, which we can thank Marvel for. As our definition of Summer movies shifts, audiences can hope to benefit from more diverse release dates and a greater slew of movies spread more evenly across the year. For Marvel, it will simply be business as usual.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ready Player One (2018) release date: Mar 29, 2018