It’s been a good year for Marvel. Correction: It’s been a great year for Marvel. First, Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened huge in April and remains the biggest blockbuster of the year so far, outgrossing its 2011 franchise-starter around the world by 92 percent! Then, last week, Guardians of the Galaxy delivered a giant weekend, vindicating Marvel’s long-range plans for deep-cut superheros. The outside-the-box space epic is even ahead of Winter Soldier‘s box-office pace after five days. And if that wasn’t enough to celebrate, yesterday, Marvel received perhaps its most enjoyable gift of all: Warner Bros. announced that it was moving Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice off its May 6, 2016 release date, avoiding a potential opening-weekend showdown with the next Captain America sequel.
The news was met with hoots of derision: Warner Bros. and DC Comics had blinked. “Bawk bawk bawk!!!! WB is chicken!!!!” screamed the always eloquent internet. “Notice that they waited until one week after Comic-Con to make this announcement so they could avoid the mocking Marvel fanboy laughter,” sneered another EW commenter.
That Warner Bros. then immediately unveiled release dates for nine untitled DC superhero movies through 2020 didn’t exactly help matters. “There was a collective eye roll,” says an industry source familiar with Marvel’s thinking. “It’s almost like DC’s trying to create this fictitious PR war or this fictitious date war, but they’re coming to a gun fight with a knife. Guardians was Marvel’s 10th No. 1 movie, and it broke the mold. It’s a raccoon and a bunch of misfits. So Monday, of course, Sony comes out with their female superhero message, and then DC comes out with untitled dates until 2020—on the heels of Time Warner kicking Fox out of bed and announcing their earnings this week. Don’t think that’s all a coincidence.”
That might all be true, but here’s the thing: moving Dawn of Justice up to March 25—a month traditionally considered a box-office dead zone—might just be a brilliant maneuver. “There’s that perception [that Warner Bros. retreated], but I think at the end of the day, he who wins is just the one who’s smart,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Rentrak. “They’re going to have an incredible amount of playing time before the Marvel movie kicks off. Putting this movie on a non-conventional date is going to pay big benefits for Warner Bros., for the theater owners—who love films that have legs—and for the audience. [Customers] will have a really cool movie to go out and see in March.” READ FULL STORY