While much has been written about 2015 as a perfect storm of tentpoles, including sequels to “Star Wars,” “The Avengers,” “Mission: Impossible,” “The Hunger Games,” “Jurassic Park,” “Fast & Furious” and “Terminator,” 2017 is shaping up to become a showdown of superhero movies.
Disney’s Marvel Studios, Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment and 20th Century Fox so far have plans to release seven films featuring comicbook-based crime fighters combined that year, a record. Sony is developing an eighth that has not yet been dated.
Update: On Oct. 15, Warner Bros. updated its superhero plans, announcing three DC Comics-based films — “Wonder Woman,” “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Justice League Part One” — to debut in 2017. That brings the overall count of superhero movies planned that year to nine, up from eight.
None of the titles are expected to be small, either.
Marvel alone has three planned for prime dates in 2017 (out in May, July and November), including “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” on July 28; DC has dated three (two are in June and November); Fox has sequels planned for “The Wolverine” and “Fantastic Four;” while Sony is developing a Spider-Man spinoff revolving around a female heroine.
So far, the November dates won’t create another Marvel vs. DC game of chicken like the recent face-off between “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Captain America 3” in 2016 (WB blinked but will now actually release its superhero mashup earlier). That’s because Marvel will release first on Nov. 3, followed by DC’s Nov. 17 date. Both films are untitled so far.
Planting flags early on future release dates isn’t unusual for studios as they look to lock down prime moviegoing moments. But such planning for major tentpoles is also key for studios when working with promotional partners to create campaigns or with toymakers and other partners to design action figures and other merchandise to sell around their releases.