Earlier this week, Marvel confirmed it will release “Captain America 3” May 6, 2016.
It wasn’t too much of a surprise since Disney previously planned to release a movie that date.
However, if you’re a movie fanatic, or a comic fan, you knew the real news was the giant-sized gauntlet Disney threw down at rival studio Warner Bros.
Previously, WB announced it would release its hugely anticipated “Batman / Superman” movie that same day after pushing back the movie 10 months.
While a bit of competition is healthy (there are usually big movie showdowns at theatres around holidays — “Fast and Furious 6″ vs. “The Hangover III” Memorial Day weekend and “Despicable Me 2 vs The Lone Ranger” bowing July 4), but usually these movies aren’t competing for the same exact audience and demos.
As it stands, this would be a huge misstep for Warner Bros.
Disney Has Nothing To Lose
There’s no way Disney will budge from the May 6 date. It’s the only studio that has figured out how to bring multiple successful superheroes to the big screen — something Fox, Sony, and Warner Bros. are now scrambling to duplicate at theatres.
In addition, the Mouse House has claimed the first weekend in May for its Marvel movies for several years.
As soon as Warner Bros. announced it would push back the currently untitled “Batman / Superman” movie to May 2016, the studio made it clear it wanted to go head-to-head with Disney.
However, with only Superman at its disposal now, WB’s DC characters don’t have anywhere near as much klout as Disney’s Marvel universe.
This Isn’t a Christopher Nolan “Batman” Film
Batman may be one of the biggest superheroes at the box office; however, it was Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy that really resonated with fans.
If this was a fourth Nolan film with Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, it would make more sense for Warner Bros. to go head-to-head with a Disney film. It would potentially even cause the mouse to back down fearing lost profits to the Bat. (Disney probably let out a giant sigh of relief when Nolan and Bale said they were done with Batman because it meant he wouldn’t be churning the wheels behind a Justice League franchise.)
However, that’s not the case.
Now that Ben Affleck has been cast as an entirely new Batman — the eighth incarnation of the Dark Knight on screen — the DC superhero needs to prove himself again to viewers. Warner Bros. is starting from scratch.
The last superhero we saw Affleck portray on screen was 2003’s “Daredevil” — and while Affleck’s grown a lot since then on screen — it’s not stopping fanboys from holding that over his head
Can two big superheroes perform better on screen than one who isn’t Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man? Probably. Fans have been waiting years for the Dark Knight and son of Krypton to appear on screen together.
But Warner Bros. has tried time and time again to put the two on the big screen side by side without success. (Remember that logo teased in “I Am Legend” that had audiences going nuts back in 2007?)
With a 10-month delay in the film’s production to re-work the script, there are doubts about the direction of the “Man of Steel” sequel.
It’s clear Warner Bros. is going to want to use this movie as its stepping stone to help set up an eventual Justice League film similar to “The Avengers.” The question is whether “Batman / Superman” will simply feel like a direct set up for an expanded DC universe to compete with Marvel.
Warner Bros. should take the time to focus on making sure its newest incarnation of Batman sits well with fans rather than throwing their best superhero up against an established Marvel character on screen.
Warner Bros. Will Lose Out If It Goes Up Against Disney’s Marvel Titan
It’s really a loss for either studio, but a bigger one for Warner Bros. which doesn’t have a plethora of DC movies at its disposal right now.
When “Captain America 3” comes out, it will look like a sequel to “The Avengers 2,” out next summer which should give it a big box-office bump.
Sure, Captain America may not be “Iron Man” popular; however, its $315 million gross after two weeks in theatres worldwide says the superhero’s a force to be reckoned with.
It makes sense Warner Bros. doesn’t want to make fans wait until June or July for a “Man of Steel” sequel with Batman. It also makes sense the studio wants to be the first big movie of the summer out in 2016; however, there’s no reason “Batman / Superman” can’t open earlier in April where it can rule the box office for a few weeks ahead of “Captain America 3.”
No matter how much money both Disney and Warner Bros. make that weekend, it won’t be more than each would make if the two sequels were spread out on the calendar.
As it stands, the two films are vying for the same audiences, asking consumers to either choose allegiances to one superhero or expecting them to spend money on two outings to theatres in one weekend.
At the end of the day, this is a case of two stubborn movie studios. One wants to be able to say it can top the other and neither wants to back down.
We’ve spoken to a few insiders who figure its only a matter of time until Warner Bros. backs off the May date.
(Though honestly, I’ve never quite understood why Disney doesn’t release a “Captain America” movie around July 4. Seems like a no-brainer marketing wise.)
If Warner Bros. sticks with the May 6 date, it will definitely be a bit of a surprise.