Studio delays Batman vs. Superman to 2016 (and sets up epic faceoff with Marvel)

We’re going to have to wait an extra year to see Ben Affleck suit up in Batman vs. Superman, but DC and Warner Bros. have sent a shot across the bow of Marvel’s summer dominance.

The Man of Steel sequel is now slated to open on May 6, 2016, and the studio has pushed Joe Wright’s upcoming Peter Pan flick into Batman vs. Superman’s old July 17, 2015, slot. Considering the fact that this is shaping up to be one hell of an ambitious project, it makes sense they’d like to give director Zack Snyder a little breathing room to get it right. Here's hoping.

Now, if that new date sounds familiar, there’s a reason — Marvel already has an unannounced superhero movie set for the same 2016 time frame. In fact, Marvel has been using that early May sweet spot to crank out blockbusters since 2006, including The Avengers, the Iron Man trilogy and Thor. So what this basically means is that Warner Bros. is out to make sure we get a straight-up DC vs. Marvel showdown at the box office. Hey, that’s one way to make a statement.

In a comment accompanying the schedule change, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said the company is eager to get a slice of that big ol’ early-summer pie that Marvel has been hogging for almost a decade:

“We are happy to take advantage of these coveted summer dates, which are perfect for two of our biggest tentpole releases. We share the fans’ excitement to see DC Comics’ most popular figures, Superman and Batman, together on the big screen for the first time, which will now be arriving in theaters in May 2016.”

It’s nice to see Warner Bros. is wanting to take some extra time on this one and not crank out a rushed sequel, but it could also be hinting at much bigger plans come 2016 and beyond. Think about it: By the time Batman vs. Superman rolls around, it’ll have been three years since Man of Steel was released — which is almost an eternity, especially considering that Marvel will have released half a dozen more movies and Avengers: Age of Ultron by that point.

So why push your only tentpole in active development a full year past its announced release date? We’d guess it could have something to do with those lingering rumors of a back-to-back shoot with a full-fledged Justice League movie, and that extra year should give Warner Bros. and DC ample time to get the production infrastructure lined up to start cranking out additional films at the rate they’ll need to keep up with Marvel.

If nothing else, at least with a property this big, that extra year will only help add to the buzz and anticipation once it eventually arrives. But can DC really go toe to toe with Marvel on a release frame they’ve owned for so long, and win?


(Via The Hollywood Reporter)

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