When Warner Bros. realized that they were not going to make their 2015 release date for “Batman vs. Superman,” they set a new date in 2016. In a very dangerous move, Warner Bros. set their new release date to coincide with the same date that Disney had already reserved to release their next Marvel movie. That meant that, for the first time ever, a Marvel and DC Comics movie would come out on the same day. Then Marvel chose to brazenly place “Captain America 3” on that date.
The idea that “Batman vs. Superman” and “Captain America 3” would both hit theaters on May 6, 2016, seemed ridiculous. For one thing, it seemed that comic book movie audiences would cannibalize each other. While there are many comic book fans who would love to see the two movies in a double screening or on back-to-back theater trips over the weekend, most families can afford only one movie trip in a weekend. With “Captain America 3” and “Batman vs. Superman” hitting on the same day, the idea of families having to pick only one would likely hurt both movies.
“Captain America 3”
People who look at box office results can easily point out that “Captain America 3” was the movie that seemed safest if the two movies battled head-to-head. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has already surpassed $600 million worldwide and is still going strong. Its foreign take alone has already surpassed the first movie’s entire worldwide take. It is also part of the huge Marvel Cinematic Universe, the number one movie franchise in history. With “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” coming out in 2015, Marvel will have a huge jump on anything DC Comics and Warner Bros. has planned.
“Batman vs. Superman”
While that is all good for people who look at box office numbers, and Captain America is more popular than ever, the competition includes the two most popular superheroes in comic book history. Not only that, but Batman and Superman appearing in a movie together for the first time is even bigger than getting The Avengers together. “Man of Steel,” despite being a polarizing movie, still made $668 million worldwide in its run. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will surpass those numbers, but it wasn’t long ago that “The Dark Knight” became a $1 billion movie. While this is a different Batman, the curiosity factor of seeing Superman and Batman battle might be too great for even Marvel to compete with.
With Marvel seeming to be almost unbeatable at the box office, Disney is still worried about the release date. While Kevin Feige said they planned to keep the date no matter what Warner Bros. did with their “Batman vs. Superman” movie, things may be changing. Brent Lang of Variety interviewed Disney chairman Alan Horn and was told that the studio is “struggling” with the thought of the two movies going head-to-head. This is a big game of chicken and one movie will likely move, with Marvel looking like it might be flinching first.