It’s never too early to make movie plans. Especially when you’re a studio with a billion-dollar franchise at stake. 20th Century Fox, which has only recently cast its new Fantastic Four and has another X-Men movie out this summer, has announced release dates for Fantastic Four II, the next Wolverine standalone — and a mystery third Marvel film.
The rebooted Fantastic Four, with Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Miles Teller reportedly aboard, is scheduled for June 19, 2015, but Fox has already penciled in a sequel for July 14, 2017.
Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, who stars in this May’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, will return in another standalone movie, targeted for March 3, 2017. His last solo effort, 2013’s The Wolverine, grossed $414.8 million globally. That film’s director, James Mangold, is attached to the next sequel as well. (Another X-Men all-star movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, will open May 27, 2016.)
Fox will deliver another Marvel film on July 13, 2018, but the studio hasn’t yet announced which superhero will be suiting up. Since Fox owns only X-Men and Fantastic Four, there’s speculation that the film could be either a crossover or another standalone for a main character from one of those franchises.
In other Fox release-date news, Matthew Vaughn’s The Secret Service has been bumped up from March 6, 2015 to Oct. 24 of this year, swapping dates with an untitled Vince Vaughn movie. Daniel Radcliffe’s Frankenstein is moving from Jan. 16, 2015, to Oct. 2, 2015. Liam Neeson’s Taken 3 will open Jan 9, 2016 — right in the heart of Neeson Season! Fox is also counting on a still-unspecified Ridley Scott movie for a March 4, 2016 release date.
Studios like to stake out prime release-date real estate years in advance for their biggest blockbusters, to best protect their properties and theoretically maximize the industry’s box-office by preventing costly head-to-head showdowns. It doesn’t always work: Captain America 3 is currently on a collision course with Batman Vs. Superman on May 6, 2016.