Warner Bros.’ choice of Ben Affleck as Batman — and its dating of its mega-franchise film for July 17, 2015 — underlines the high stakes faced by Hollywood’s studios as they scramble to secure key opening slots two years in advance.
Setting the still-untitled Batman-Superman team-up with a prime release date gives Warner Bros. a chance to match or top Marvel’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” as the leading movie in the 2015 summer — and makes that summer one of the most competitive ever.
The 2015 summer has already been heavily scheduled after May following Disney’s May 1 launch of the second “Avengers” and Paramount’s animated “Monster Trucks” project on May 29.
Pixar’s animated “Inside Out” and Fox-Ubisoft’s videogame project “Assassin’s Creed” will open on June 19. Paramount will launch the fifth iteration of “The Terminator” a week later.
July has already seen two major titles set — Fox’s reboot of “Independence Day” opens on July 3 and Disney’s fifth “Pirates of the Carribean” on July 10 — along with another “Smurfs” film from Sony on July 24.
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Warner Bros. has used the third weekend in July for its last two Batman movies, both which starred Christian Bale and topped $1 billion in worldwide grosses. “The Dark Knight” opened on July 18, 2008 and “The Dark Knight Rises” launched on July 20, 2012.
“Man of Steel,” starring Henry Cavill, has grossed nearly $650 million worldwide since opening in mid-June. That was a solid performance but well below some expectations — which had been raised partly due to former studio chief Jeff Robinov’s prediction that it would be the top-grossing Warner movie of all time.
The second “Avengers” will be formidable in light of last year’s “Avengers” taking in $1.5 billion worldwide. That’s the third highest gross ever after “Avatar” and “Titanic.”
When Warner execs announced the Batman-Superman project as a follow to “Man of Steel” at last month’s Comic-Con, they did not disclose the date but the presumption was that the tentpole would be released in the summer of 2015.
Thursday’s announcement of Affleck’s casting included the July 17, 2015 launch date — which is likely to keep any other major titles out of that month.