Yesterday, Warner announced that they are moving Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice from it's original May 6, 2016 opening to March 25, 2016. This was done seemingly to avoid a showdown between Marvel's Captain America 3, which is also slated to open that weekend. I was scratching my head when I first heard this news yesterday. You mean to tell me that DC decided to move it's first huge superhero mash up film to March because one of Marvel's "individual" superhero sequels will be opening the same weekend? It does seem like maybe DC blinked in the face of competition.
However, DC made more news than just announcing the shift in dates for Batman v Superman, they also announced their roadmap for nine untitled DC pics as well as two “untitled WB event film” slots that take the DC Comics series of movies into 2020.
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice – 03/25/16
Untitled DC Film – 08/05/16
Untitled DC Film – 06/23/17
Untitled DC Film – 11/17/17
Untitled DC Film – 03/23/18
Untitled Warner Animated Film – 05/25/18
Untitled DC Film – 07/27/18
Untitled WB Event Film – 11/16/18
Untitled DC Film – 04/05/19
Untitled Warner Animated Film – 05/24/19
Untitled DC Film – 06/14/19
Untitled DC Film – 04/03/20
Untitled DC Film – 06/19/20
Untitled WB Event Film – 11/20/20
What's interesting is that all these untitled works have specific dates to which they are attached. We know that a Justice League movie will be one of those Untitled films somewhere around 2017/2018. As far as the others go who knows? Perhaps Wonder Woman will get her own film, Aquaman, etc.
I still criticize Warner a bit for blinking because I think they would show more confidence in their first big superhero mash up film by directly challenging Marvel to duke it out with both films being released on the same day. I find that idea fascinating, but I also understand that someone had to move first and that was DC. By unveiling a whole slew of films through 2020 they are challenging Marvel Studios power over the competition so far.
The Warner Bros. spin department is claiming that the move proves that movies are a 12 month a year proposition. Indeed, Zack Snyder has had quite a bit of success with 300 and Watchmen, which both opened in March. As a matter of fact, the recent success of Captain America: Winter Soldier proves that you don't have to release "Summer Movies" in the Summer necessarily.
“If you have a great film, people will come no matter when it’s dated,” said Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, president of Warner Bros. international distribution. “It’s a bold move, but we’re taking it because we think it’s such a great film.”
That statement does make sense. After all, the Summer movie season can get a bit packed, and many films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla, had steep drop offs during their second weekend because of the crowded blockbuster Summer. Warner Bros. points out that they released Gravity and The Lego Movie in October and February respectively, and they were massive hits in part because of the lack of competition.
“We think these movies can open any time of the year,” said Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theatre Owners. “We’re seeing a lot more of an expansion of the calendar.”
That March period which Warner moved Batman v Superman to will help the film capitalize on some spring school holidays and Easter, a strategy that reaped dividends for blockbusters such as The Hunger Games and Alice in Wonderland, both of which were unveiled that month.
I think it was smart for Warner to wait until after Comic-Con to make this announcement, because by all reports the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice panel was a huge success. Many fans were buzzing about the teaser trailer unveiled during the Con. Warner Bros., instead of shying away, is taking the initiative by announcing how they plan on changing the box office perception during the next 6 years. While you could say they're giving away their hand too early (I don't think all those dates are set in stone), it's also a challenge to Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studio powers that they are ready for a battle.
Only one question remains. By the time 2020 comes around with all these comic book movies, will audiences be tired of them? Will this "fad" eventually wear itself too thin?