Spurred partly by breakout B.O. for “Spider-Man,” 20th Century Fox has shifted the opening of “Daredevil” to President’s Day weekend next Feb. 14.
“Daredevil,” based on the Marvel character created by Stan Lee, had been tentatively slotted to open Jan. 17 at the start of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday period. But Fox and Marvel Studios topper Avi Arad believe the February start date offers greater potential to deliver mega-grosses.
“The summer is starting earlier and earlier,” Arad said.
Move comes three weeks after Sony’s muscular “Spider-Man,” also based on a Marvel character, demolished B.O. records with an eye-popping $114.8 million in its first three days. The 20-day cume for the Web slinger topped $295 million on Wednesday.
“Audiences have demonstrated a tremendous appetite for comic superheroes in the last couple of years,” said 20th Century Fox vice chairman Bob Harper. “We are very excited about unveiling the next big Marvel superhero on the first big holiday of the year.”
Winter holiday biz
Both winter holiday periods generated solid biz this year, with $151.4 million in the four-day MLK period, led by $33.6 million for “Black Hawk Down,” and $163.9 million in the President’s Day frame, topped by Denzel Washington starrer “John Q” with $23.6 million.
The Fox/Regency Enterprises production toplines Ben Affleck in the title role, a blind lawyer by day and a relentless masked avenger by night, when his other senses operate with superhuman sharpness.
Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau and Jennifer Garner co-star in “Daredevil,” written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, produced by Gary Foster and Arad and exec produced by Kevin Feige and Bernie Williams.
Lensing on “Daredevil” began in late March in Los Angeles, and a studio rep said the date shift was unrelated to potential production delays.
Marvel has two more potential blockbusters already set in 2003, with Fox staking out another prime date of May 2 — a year after the “Spider-Man” opening — for its “X2” sequel to “X-Men” and Universal slotting “The Hulk” June 20.
“We’ll have three premieres next year; my wife will love it,” Arad said.