On Wednesday Warner Brothers made two announcements. The first was that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was moving from its May 6, 2016 date to March 25, 2016. Then second was that it released 9 future movie dates for yet to be announced DC Comics Films.
The moving of Batman V Superman surprised me, as DC flinched from the Captain America 3 showdown that a lot of us comic fans had been equally dreading and looking forward too. Over the last few months I have had countless discussions about what film I would see first that weekend. Would I see both on the same weekend? Would I wait for the next weekend to see the second film? What film would ultimately come out on top? Being a huge Batman fan, I would have chosen Batman V Superman, of course! I’m glad that Warner Brothers moved Batman V Superman as it avoids making fans choose and ensures that both films will perform well. In the showdown scenario it is possible that your everyday movie going masses would choose only one comic book film that weekend, and that despite high expectations from fans and the studios, both films would underperform. I imagine a $150 million weekend for the showdown scenario, with both films splitting it evenly. A $75 million dollar opening is a good opening, but would have been a bad number for both studios that expect these to do gigantic numbers. In Hollywood today, it’s all about breaking records and having a $100 million dollar weekend, which this summer only the much maligned Transformers: Age of Extinction has managed to do. Now that Batman V Superman is coming to us on March 25, 2016 both films will see hopefully gigantic opening weekend numbers, ensuring more sequels for years to come.
What I find most interesting about the Batman V Superman move is that instead of moving to June, where Man of Steel launched and did well, or even July where Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films launched, Warner Brothers decided on March. March had typically been an okay month for movie releases from Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder; we’ve seen both 300 films release in March, as well as Watchmen. The quality of those movies may be debated, but the financial successes cannot. The release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in late April of this year to a $95 million dollar weekend probably also influenced this decision. It proved that you can launch a summer movie before the first weekend in May, which has typically been the unofficial start of the blockbuster releases year after year. What probably clinched the decision to move for Warner Brothers was Guardians of the Galaxy’s $94 million dollar opening weekend in August, which typically has been the worst month to open summer movies in. Here was a brand new property, albeit a MARVEL movie, about some wacky aliens, a talking raccoon, and a giant tree that went on a space adventure. Talk about a niche movie; a niche movie that played to the masses and did way beyond expectations. Last Thursday predictions for Guardians of the Galaxy were capped at $65 million dollars. A respectable opening, but this blew that out of the water. Guardians outperformed the opening weekends for the original Thor and Captain America films! I bet no one at Marvel expected that.
So the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy on the fringes of the summer movie season just show that audiences, if they want to see a film, will come out to see it no matter when it comes out. I bet a few years from now we will see giant blockbusters coming out all year round, not just the summer, or whatever large awards contender claims the December opening (looking at you Peter Jackson!) This is good news for movie fans, as we will have our slam-bang action films spread out amongst the year, giving us a breather before the next one. Summers may still rule, but we can look forward to enjoying more comic book films year round, which as long as the quality stays high, is a good thing.