*Apologies to any readers outside of the United States and Canada as all of the release dates discussed below are domestic. Its unclear how many of the releases will be the same in international markets.
To most audiences, a release date for a movie likely bears little importance. A movie will come out when it comes out, and you’ll get to decide whether or not to go see it when that happens. There are certainly individual variables at play, such as hoping a movie comes out by a certain point because you know you’ll have time to see it then but not if it is released any later. Plus, a film which is delayed multiple times can hinder anticipation as it gives the project the air of a troubled production whose finished film will underwhelm.
Over the past couple of months, multiple films have had their release dates pushed back, Ant-Man being a notable exception as it was actually moved to an earlier release date in July instead of November 2015. These are big decisions for the studios, and its quite often a balancing act dictating by the moves by rival studios. Setting a solid release date gives the studio and its hired filmmakers a cut-off point at which they know all work on the film must be completed. However, delaying a release date often means the extra time required to “get it right” equates to the studio leaving millions of dollars in potential box office revenue on the table. For example, it might seem inconsequential to have a December release date pushed back one month into January. It’s a big deal, though. As originally reported by ScreenCrush.com, “The average total domestic box office gross for December releases over the past ten years is over $1.1 billion, whereas for January it’s just $385 million.” In short, there are times when you really want your movie to come out, and then there are times you just lower your expectations and hope you’ll be the movie that does well during that month where nothing else does.
So, what are we to make of the run of release date changes that have come down over the past two months? Here they are:
-Universal Pictures and Focus Features have pushed 50 Shades of Grey back from Aug. 1, 2014 to Feb. 13, 2015. Even before Charlie Hunnan left the project mere weeks prior to the start of production, that August release date seemed impossible to achieve. They also keep hiring new screenwriters to work on the script. This is a project well-served by this move. Over the past couple of years, February has been only a slightly less lucrative month for film than August, and a Valentines Day release for such a female-skewering movie makes sense. More importantly, it really looks like they desperately need the extra 6 months afforded them by this move.
-Paramount and Indian Paintbrush have pushed Jason Reitman’s (Juno, Up in the Air) -Labor Day from its planned limited release on Dec. 27, 2013 to a wide release on Jan. 31, 2014. The awards contender stars Kate Winslet, and will pretty much be a February release. Their original plans to do a platform release could have worked at another time of the year as such a strategy has worked for recent indies like Blue Jasmine, Enough Said, 12 Years a Slave, etc. What they’re really doing is running away from what is shaping up to be a packed Christmas, which has five wide releases (most notably 47 Ronin, Wolf of Wall Street, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), two limited (most notably August: Osage County), and the expansion of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Plus, two other films are scheduled to have limited openings on Dec. 27.
-Fox has pushed back their Fantastic Four re-boot from March 6, 2015, to June 19, 2015. This now means that the summer of 2015 will have Avengers 2 at the beginning of May, Fantastic Four at mid-June, Batman vs. Superman at the beginning of July, and Ant-Man at the end of July. That is at least one too many comic book movies in too short an amount of time. Ant-Man will have the benefit of opening so close to Avengers 2, but will superhero movie fatigue have set in by the time it comes out?
-Fox has pushed back Secret Service from Nov. 14, 2014, to March 6, 2015. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and based upon a Dave Gibbons/Mark Millar comic book, the Secret Service is set to star Colin Firth, Michael Caine, and Samuel L. Jackson.
-Fox has pushed back Michael Fassbender‘s video game adaptation of Assassin’s Creed from June 19, 2015, to Aug. 7, 2015. This makes room for Fantastic Four, as the summer of 2015 is becoming so created its releases are finally starting to spill over into August. However, August is a time when the average total domestic gross is cut in half from July and June. It’s the month you put out your lower budgeted summer movie and lower your expectations. This move would be good on its own as it would un-clutter the summer, but it being moved in favor of Fantastic Four just adds yet another big movie to the summer of 2015.
These shifts were all announced over the past couple of days. Films which weren’t pushed back but had their release dates announced for the first time include Star Wars: Episode VII for December 18, 2015, and the next Paul Feig-Melissa McCarthy comedy, Susan Cooper, will come out May 22, 2015. This does add yet another big movie to that summer, but it is a different kind of movie which based upon how well the Feig-McCarthy-Bullock collaboration The Heat did this past summer is a good thing.
A batch of release date shifts were also announced last month, this time for movies that are far closer to actually coming out than the above 2015 films. These new release dates included:
-Sony pushed George Clooney’s The Monuments Men from a Christmas release to Feb. 7, 2014. There is simply too much competition right now over Christmas, and this delay bypasses the financial dead zone that is January. So, that’s good. It’s still a shame as this was a movie I had personally been looking forward to seeing on Christmas.
-The Robocop re-boot was originally supposed to come out on Feb. 7, 2014, but has been pushed back five days to Feb. 12, 2014 to make room for The Monuments Men. The buzz on this project is very not good right now with absolutely scathing reactions to each new trailer.
-Director David O. Russell’s American Hustle, which looks to combine the best parts of his last two movies (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) by featuring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence in its main cast, has been pushed up. It was supposed to be a Christmas Day release, but now it is coming out on Dec. 13, 2013.
-Also vacating Christmas Day is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which has been pushed back to Jan. 17, 2014, where it is now currently the most high-profile release of that month.
These are the dates when these movies are going to come out except, of course, until the studio changes the dates, which for some of these they still could do. Heck, I don’t even 100% trust that December 18, 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII. These things change with alarming frequency. Some of the release shifts are for the better, others have only complicated the forthcoming summer of 2015 problems.
What do you think? Don’t really pay attention to release dates until you start seeing actual trailers with actual footage of the movie? Couldn’t care less if a summer has too many movies? Bummed that Monuments Men got pushed back? Never heard of some of the other ones? Let us know in the comments section.