Last night Marvel made a huge announcement – the Avengers: Infinity War release date has changed, and the world will get it a week early.
Every American who thought they’d have to wait until May 4 now gets to see it on April 27.
This brings Avengers: Infinity war in line with the planned UK release date (and general international plan), but it has massive implications for the wider film industry.
The announcement might have looked like a throwaway exchange on Twitter between Robert Downey Jr and the official Marvel Studios account, but this is one of the biggest power plays Marvel’s made in a decade of releasing superhero movies.
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) March 1, 2018
Make no mistake, film studios don’t randomly decide to change release dates that have been locked in place for years for social media lols – this move would have involved many meetings and intricate planning.
And if we were literally any studio other than Disney, we’d be feeling pretty annoyed right now.
Taking a look at the release schedule, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Warner Brothers and Universal have left the path pretty clear for Infinity War, deliberately not scheduling anything major against it.
They didn’t take those measures because they want Disney to be free to celebrate the decade-long build to Infinity War, they did it because they knew anything they put against it would be crushed at the box office.
Which is obviously bad news for the films they were trying to squeeze in before Avengers came along to take everyone’s money.
The Rock’s latest blockbuster Rampage now only has one week to get as much cash as it can before it loses money and screens to Captain America and his mates.
Amy Schumer’s high concept comedy I Feel Pretty has an even tougher time of it – it has to directly compete with Infinity War, as they’re now being released on the same day.
I Feel Pretty could have had a decent opening weekend, now it’ll have to compete against the film everyone’s been waiting ten years to see. Forget feeling pretty, we’d be feeling furious if we were Schumer.
This basically means Infinity War has three weeks without competition, instead of the fortnight the studios had graciously given it. And the next major movie it has to compete with? Deadpool 2, on May 18. After that, it’s Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25.
Of course, that’s not the way Marvel and Disney are angling the move – they’re doing it for the fans, obviously. But the fact that they’re also going to (almost certainly) going to break every box office record going is a happy side effect.
And there’s another major implication. The days of UK Marvel fans feeling smug about getting to see MCU movies first could be at an end.
We’ve become used to the routine – a Marvel movie release date is announced, the United Kingdom gets it a week early, we’re relieved we’re not going to be bombarded with spoilers from the States.
Not so this time – and, if the move is successful (it will be), the UK could have seen its last early Marvel movie. Preposterously, Ant-Man And The Wasp is already coming out a FULL MONTH after the US in the UK, which means spoilers will be impossible to avoid – and it could be a sign of things to come.
Marvel have made an unprecedented business decision here. Films have shifted within release schedules before, but never this close to the announced date – it basically makes it impossible for everyone else to change their locked plans.
But, whatever the reason, expect the move to have an impact going forward. Because if the other studios can’t trust Marvel to stick to their release dates, how much space will they need to give future releases, to protect their own opening weekend figures? You can guarantee this is the topic of every meeting in Hollywood today.
Marvel just changed the rules of the game – it’ll be fascinating to see how everyone else reacts.
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