Saturday, July 19, 2014
Last month, DreamWorks rolled out a packed slate. Filling in dates that Fox already claimed for animated releases from that studio, Blue Sky and Fox Animation (and possibly Reel FX if they are willing to team up again after this autumn's The Book of Life), they determined which films would come out when.
All of the dates they picked seemed very reasonable, too. All distanced from competition (for instance, The Croods opens 11/3/2017 while an undetermined Pixar film opens 11/22/2017), and some films even got really unexpected release dates such as Captain Underpants (1/13/2017) and Larrikins (2/16/2018).
But lo and behold, last night, Disney locked dates for future Marvel films. That slate goes up to spring 2019, as I presume the 5/3/2019 release will be The Avengers 3. The dilemma? Two of those dates on there were claimed by Fox/DreamWorks first: 11/3/2017 and 11/2/2018. The Croods 2 as mentioned above opens on the former, Puss in Boots 2 opens on the latter date.
This is not surprising, actually. Disney and Fox have had release date wars. In some cases, Disney got certain dates first and Fox then took them. At other times, Fox has claimed dates and Disney moved their releases into them…
June 19, 2015: Inside Out vs. The Fantastic Four
March 4, 2016: Untitled Disney Animation vs. Untitled Ridley Scott Film
May 27, 2016: Alice in Wonderland 2 vs. X-Men: Apocalypse
June 17, 2016: Finding Dory vs. How To Train Your Dragon 3
December 16, 2016: Star Wars spin-off vs. Alvin and the Chipmunks 4
June 16, 2017: Untitled Pixar vs. Untitled Fox animation release (DWA/Blue Sky/etc.)
Now with DreamWorks claiming the more reasonable dates for their 2017 and 2018 films, Disney/Marvel could've easily scheduled their Marvel movies for the weekends after. 11/10/2017 and 11/9/2018 would've been perfect spots, so they could at least space them out from the DreamWorks films.
Seriously, if Disney and Fox truly have a rivalry going like this (I hear they really are), it's not good for their films. Studio politics rearing its ugly head…
Marvel movies will crush DreamWorks' movies if they open the same weekends, because DreamWorks films are family-friendly and appeal to all demographics, and also rely on them too. Marvel movies will possibly take all of that away from them and then some! Disney won't budge, this is Marvel we're talking about!
This means Fox will have to move those two DreamWorks films… But where to? Sequels like Croods 2 and Puss in Boots 2 were fine in the first-week-of-November slots of their respective years. Moving them back a weekend puts them too close to competition!
- In November 2017, Illumination's Grinch film opens the 17th with a Pixar film following on the 22nd. - In November 2018, an untitled Disney Animation film opens on the 21st.
The two different demographics thing is a myth, for animated films that make lots of money do so because of all ages, all four quadrants. It isn't just families and children, though people would find that hard to believe because of the stigmas animation can't shake here in America. In short, animated films do well because of wide audiences. It's the audience Walt Disney went for, almost everyone he could get from young'uns to gramps. The studios today do that too, they aren't making kiddie flicks.
With that off my chest, yes, those two Marvel movies do pose a threat to those two DreamWorks films. Marvel films appeal to that same wide audience with their PG-13 ratings and content, kids go to see Marvel movies, families go, teens go, adults go… All of that will be sucked away from The Croods 2 and Puss in Boots 2 if they indeed keep their release dates. DreamWorks doesn't need any more underperformers at this rate, either. Especially underperforming sequels! How To Train Your Dragon 2 was a harsh enough blow.
Disney's choice of release dates for the two Marvel movies has put DreamWorks in a predicament, and now DreamWorks must act. What release dates could they settle for? Well, studios have been proving to us for years that the holiday season isn't always the be-all end-all for big event movies. Look no further than two recent Warner Bros. films, Gravity and The Lego Movie. Both made over $250 million domestically, the latter was a February release (no, but kids are in school! It'll fail!) while the former was an October release.
In short, make a good movie and market it well, and it'll do just fine no matter when it's released. January, February, August, September, October…
Last week, I had suggested that DreamWorks try out the October spot for their 2015 original film B.O.O. Why is that? Because I can't see Kung Fu Panda 3 opening five days after Star Wars: Episode VII, it'll get annihilated. Kung Fu Panda 3 should take B.O.O.'s current spot (6/5/2015) and B.O.O. should settle for an October release so that DreamWorks still has a late quarter 2015 release, it can take advantage of Halloween too!
If they do that for Kung Fu Panda 3 and B.O.O., then The Croods 2 and Puss in Boots 2 should become October releases as well. Marvel won't budge, it's a given. So why not move those films to those months, market them well and let them grow legs so that by the time those Marvel titans come crashing into multiplexes, there will be enough word-of-mouth to keep those films going? By a month, they'll already make it back, too!
The Croods 2 - 10/6/2017
Untitled Marvel - 11/3/2017
Puss in Boots 2 - 10/5/2018
Untitled Marvel - 11/2/2018
I think that could work out. The question is, would Fox/DreamWork be willing to move their films to those dates? Well, seeing as how Captain Underpants will be a January release in 2017, I don't see why not.