Last Thursday, Marvel Studios and Robert Downey, Jr. announced on Twitter that they’re moving the U.S. release date of “Avengers: Infinity War” up a week, from May 4 to April 27. The highly-anticipated third title under the ‘Avengers’ name will now open the same weekend around the globe, rare these days for a Marvel movie. The trend has been to open overseas a week or two prior to the U.S., so this definitely shakes things up.
Moving-up a movie by just 7 days may not seem like a huge deal, but for conglomerate Marvel… it absolutely is. In fact, I think it’s one of the boldest and most stunning decisions the studio has made since they established the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with 2008’s “Iron Man”.
This announcement was made on March 1 – via Twitter. The Marvel Studios and RDJ Twitter accounts went back-and-forth in a playful banter to declare the new worldwide open of April 27. [However, with early Thursday night showings in the U.S., it’s now really April 26.]
For Marvel (who also just set release dates for untitled films all the way to 2022) to make a last-minute date change on one of their movies… let alone the third “Avengers” film… is historic to say the least.
Over the past decade or so, I’ve seen studios do all kinds of things with release dates. The Weinstein Co. was notorious for cancelling or delaying films’ release dates just DAYS before they were supposed to open. Other times, films have been moved up or back, from a Friday to a Wednesday, or vice versa, within a few weeks of the scheduled open.
On Dec. 6, Sony shifted Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” from Dec. 20 to the 25th. This was a pretty big deal, though considering all that went into the last-minute adjustments for that film, a five-day delay wasn’t a shocker.
But the last time I remember a significant last-minute move UP was DreamWorks Animation’s 2011 “Shrek” spinoff “Puss in Boots”. On Sept. 30, after months of marketing, they announced the film was moving up a week, from November 4 to October 28 (Halloween weekend). [And I actually got to see it at a screening on Oct. 22.]
This was likely done to give “Puss” an extra week away from the crowded family film competition of that holiday season. “Jack and Jill”, “Happy Feet Two”, “The Muppets”, “Arthur Christmas” and “Hugo” all opened in November, with “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”, “The Adventures of Tintin” and “We Bought a Zoo” in December.
The strategy ended-up working, with “Puss” earning nearly $150 million in the U.S. and a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination. Interestingly, those first two weekends at the box office were almost IDENTICAL:
Oct. 28-30: $34.1 million
Nov. 4-6: $33.1 million
Back to “Avengers”, which has now forced nearly every other movie opening in April to change their dates. First came STX’s Amy Schumer comedy “I Feel Pretty”, which moved from 4/27 to 4/20. Next, WB announced they were shifting the Dwayne Johnson action film “Rampage” from 4/20 to 4/13. And now Lionsgate has moved the comedy remake “Overboard” from April 13 to May 4, and the thriller “Traffik” from 4/27 to the 4/20. Update: “Bad Samaritan” has also moved from 4/27 to 5/4.
In a rare turn of events, April may now become the most jam-packed month of the entire year. Here’s how the month currently looks:
6 – “Blockers”, “Chappaquiddick”, “The Miracle Season”, “A Quiet Place”
13 – “Borg vs. McEnroe”, “Rampage”, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero”, “Truth or Dare?”
20 – “Dolphins”, “Duck Duck Goose”, “I Feel Pretty”, “Super Troopers 2”, “Traffik”, “Tully”
27 – “Avengers: Infinity War”
With “Avengers”‘ new date, Summer officially begins in April, shrinking the Spring Movie Season (if there is such a thing any more) to just 8 weeks – and extending the Summer Movie Season to 19.