Staking Out Tentpoles
Hollywood studios have long staked out release dates in advance for their tentpole releases, the movies that define their creative and financial reputations. Lately, however, it's gotten silly, with Marvel claiming the opening weekends of summer blockbuster season in 2016 and 2017 for themselves, and Sony claiming the opening summer weekend of 2018 for The Amazing Spider-Man 4. Go ahead, superhero fans, plan your life now for the next five years!
It's all a bit of gamesmanship, of course, but it does point to the increasing, nearly-exclusive reliance on superheroes for certain studios: Warner Bros. has DC; Disney has most of Marvel; Sony has Spider-Man; and Fox has X-Men. But Disney also has Star Wars, Pixar, and their own animated titles to add into the distribution mix, Fox has Dreamworks Animiation and Blue Sky Studios, and so forth. It got so crowded last year that Universal moved their franchise property, Fast and Furious, into April, though it's back in the "official" May - August season this year and next.
Marvels' mystery movie tour continues with their latest announcement, a date (July 8, 2016) rather than a title. They're betting on fan fascination, but I'm betting that fan fatigue will set in before all these superhero movies get released. Which one will fail first?