After announcing a delay in the next Pirates of the Caribbean film slated for a July 2015 release, Disney followed that by announcing the Ant-Man movie was being pushed forward from November of that year to a summer release date instead. Specifically, Ant-Man will now open just two weeks after Warner Bros. teams up Batman and Superman on screen for the first time in history.
Marvel-Disney are shuffling around release dates in a crowded year, putting finishing touches on marketing and production plans, and strategies for maximizing box office. That’s one clear reason this is all happening — with Pirates of the Caribbean needing to be pushed back, the schedule opened up in July and Ant-Man got moved forward to fill that space for the studio.
So, why use Ant-Man as the replacement? I think they have several good reasons for placing that bet.
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Since The Avengers: Age of Ultron is almost surely going to be a huge blockbuster, the coattails could help boost Ant-Man significantly more the closer its proximity to the Avengers sequel. It will be heavily marketed as part of the Marvel and Avengers branding to pound that linkage into everyone’s minds. The link’s already there, of course, but if there’s also some literal story linkage involved — which would be a very smart move, obviously, even if it’s just a small amount to allow the ads to mention the direct story link — then releasing it right on the heels of The Avengers: Age of Ultron might let Ant-Man capitalize substantially on that bigger film’s likely success.
This is a bold, confident move by Marvel-Disney. They are showing no fear about where their moves fall around other films’ schedules — notably, WB’s Batman vs Superman. However, I don’t see this as an attempt by Marvel-Disney to really challenge WB in a literal sense — sure, it gives that appearance and there’s some rivalry there, but you don’t make business decisions about hundreds of millions of dollars of investments based on simple rivalry. Disney and Marvel are far too smart for that, even if they are happy to let fans imagine a gauntlet has been thrown down.
Instead, I think that besides The Avengers: Age of Ultron coattails, Marvel thinks 2015 will be a year of heightened audience enthusiasm for the genre due to multiple huge high-quality releases, and so putting Ant-Man smack in the midst of all of it will let it ride EVERYONE’S coattails, along with that key Marvel and Avengers branding.
Marvel-Disney probably also assumes Batman vs Superman will be selling out a LOT of theaters, so people who show up and can’t get tickets will have the Ant Man option in front of them as an alternative — with that big Marvel brand name featured prominently on the posters and the Avengers link still nice and fresh in everyone’s minds to help seal the deal. And of course, any hardcore Marvel fans who want something to go see instead of Batman vs Superman will now have an options that weekend to register their “protest vote,” so to speak.
There are a lot of reasons this could work out quite nicely for Ant-Man. It will all depend on whether the film is good, if Marvel markets it smartly and heavily, and if The Avengers: Age of Ultron is likewise great and a big hit — all of which is likely to end up being true, if history is any guide, so I think Marvel is smart to make this bet on Ant-Man.
What do you think, dear readers? Do you agree that Marvel-Disney are making a smart move with this rescheduling? Or do you think the risks are too great, and that the November date was a better option? Sound off in the comments below!
Correction: I previously mistakenly wrote in the opening paragraph that Ant-Man opened the same weekend as, instead of two weeks after, Batman vs. Superman.
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