"Captain America" sequel conquers April; moves to take on the "World's Finest" next!
This weekend saw the release of Marvel Studios' "Captain America: the Winter Soldier", which was a sequel to 2011's "Captain America: the First Avenger" as well as the general thrust of continuity since 2012's "The Avengers". Stating that it "did well" is an understatement; it went on to set a record for a box office debut in North America during the month of April. In its' first weekend, "Captain America 2" earned $96.2 million, which surpassed 2011's "Fast Five"'s tally of $86.2 million. As Box Office Mojo explains, this is more evidence of an "Avengers bump" which has boosted the box office grosses of any Marvel Studios' film which has been released subsequently. After "The Avengers", the third "Iron Man" film did 36% better than the second, and "Thor: the Dark World" fared 30% better than "Thor". For the record, "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" is up some 46% from the debut of the original three years ago. The film also earned over $107 million overseas with a worldwide gross of $207 million; in two weeks, it has done better than the first Cap film did overall.
Emboldened, Marvel Studios have officially pitted this film franchise against their "distinguished competition". Although rumored earlier, today the studio set the official date for "Captain America 3" at May 6th, 2016. This happens to be the exact date that Warner Brothers has staked for their still untitled "Man of Steel" sequel ("Batman vs. Superman"). Warner Brothers have already pushed the release date of this film back from summer 2015 due to production/script woes before, and it remains to be seen if they will press on with it, or seek to move away from a direct conflict with the more successful Marvel Studios. The strong success of the second Captain America film, as well as the success of the entire "Marvel cinematic universe" have become a bulldozer that Warner Brothers cannot ignore in this Hollywood game of "chicken". Should both films be released on the same weekend, Warner Brothers has more to lose with a "Man of Steel" sequel bombing or under performing than Marvel Studios would of a third Captain America film doing so. Thrusting Batman and Wonder Woman into a Superman film in a desperate attempt to build towards "Justice League" is a risky move for Warner Brothers as is; having such strong competition on the same weekend in two year's time may not be a battle the Dark Knight needs.
Marvel Studios has "map of films" planned until...2028!
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has been a busy man; not only will he be discussing "Captain America: the Winter Soldier", but also building hype for the second Marvel Studios film this year, August's "Guardians of the Galaxy". While it has been known that the studio already has their slate of films staked out until May 5th, 2017, Feige has revealed that their plans (a "map of films") extend at least eleven years beyond that.
This "map of films" includes August 1st's, "Guardians of the Galaxy", "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on May 1st, 2015, "Ant-Man" on July 17th of that year, and now "Captain America 3" for May 6th, 2016. Two unknown films are slated for July 8th, 2016 and May 5th, 2017. It is known that a third "Thor" film is in some "stage" of development, and rumors of a "Doctor Strange" film on the horizon are only going to get stronger due to a name drop in "Winter Soldier". This also doesn't include films of Marvel franchises that were licensed out to other studios; the "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four" at Fox and "Spider-Man" with Sony.
Some cynics might wonder if this plan is being too optimistic. There is a fear that the general audience's patience and approval of superhero films could reach critical mass at some point in the near future, especially since they've been central to the "summer blockbuster schedule" for at least the past 12-14 years. It is believed that Marvel Studios are attempting to avoid this by having their characters occupy different genres. "Thor" films tend to mingle elements of myth and magic, while "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" delves into political thriller territory. "Guardians of the Galaxy" is a space film which has little to do with costumed superheroes battling crime or disaster. "Ant-Man" is described as a spy film. On the other hand, some could claim that general audiences have yet to have fatigue with disaster films, or horror films, or romantic comedies, or general men's action films, or even poorly written and overly expensive Hollywood drivel in particular. So long as the finished product remains good, an audience will always be there, and having a long term plan for such is exactly what sets Marvel Studios apart from their rival, DC Entertainment.