On Tuesday, Disney (DIS) announced an updated release schedule that includes Star Wars and Avatar films dated alllll the way up to 2025. If the studio’s extensive library of blockbuster titles weren’t evidence enough, the ambitious roster reaffirmed that the Mouse House isn’t messing around.
Now that Disney has staked its claim to some prime release dates, it will be intriguing to see if rival studios run for cover. Specifically, we’ll be watching Warner Bros., considering the Magic Kingdom’s new schedule throws direct competition at some of its splashy tentpoles (WB finished second behind Disney in domestic box office last year).
Below, a look at some of the upcoming box-office battles we’ll witness between the two studios.
Warner Bros.: Birds of Prey (2/7/2020)
Disney: Untitled Kingsman Prequel (2/14/2020)
While WB’s experimental, Joaquin Phoenix–starring Joker takes place outside the DC Universe, Margot Robbie’s supposedly R-rated superheroine film featuring her Suicide Squad character Harley Quinn is meant to expand the scope of the shared continuity with new story lines and a new style—think more mature, a bit more violent and with a whole lot of attitude.
And therein lies the problem. Kingsman is a similarly adult-skewing blockbuster franchise. With so much audience crossover, can these two movies peacefully coexist within one week of each other?
“I think it opens [the superhero genre] up to a new perspective and artistic energy that is needed in that world,” Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Huntress in Birds of Prey, told Observer last year.
But can the box office really support the energy of both these projects?
Warner Bros.: The Six Billion Dollar Man (6/5/2020), Wonder Woman 1984 (6/5/2020),
Disney: Untitled Pixar Animation (6/19/2020)
WB will want to give Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman 1984 as much room as possible to soar. The studio already pushed its release from November 2019 to the prime summer slot that served the first film so well in 2017 (it pulled in $412 million domestic and $822 million worldwide). Though Mark Wahlberg’s Six Billion Dollar Man recently tapped Travis Knight (Bumblebee) to direct, we wouldn’t be shocked to see it moved to another time of year.
The question is: How much of a dent will Disney’s untitled Pixar film put in Wonder Woman‘s box-office earnings? Pixar continues to tailor its films for four-quadrant appeal and hasn’t dipped below a $50 million opening since 2015. Don’t underestimate the lamp.
Warner Bros.: Untitled WB Animation Event Film (12/21/2021), Sherlock Holmes 3 (12/22/2021)
Disney: Avatar 2 (12/17/2021)
Here’s where things start to get juicy. As of now, 2009’s Avatar remains the highest-grossing film of all time, having raked in $2.78 billion worldwide (though Avengers: Endgame could usurp the crown in the coming weeks). Though a groundbreaking feat of filmmaking, Avatar‘s formulaic script hasn’t aged well. We really have no idea how much demand still exists for the oft-delayed sequel, which is arriving 12 years after the original.
Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr., could still presumably ride a wave of post-Marvel hype in the Sherlock Holmes threequel. And if the WB animation film is the long-rumored Batman Beyond adaptation, there’s going to be serious trouble. As we saw in 2018 with the Christmas season release of a handful of studio films in the span of two weeks, it’s not easy to support multiple tentpoles at once.
The safe assumption is that Avatar 2 will be overwhelmingly successful, but it’s possible that Warner Bros. could chip away at it with its dual mini-majors, should they remain on the schedule.
Warner Bros.: Aquaman 2 (12/16/2022)
Disney: Untitled Star Wars Film (12/16/2022)
The untitled next feature is believed to be the first entry in The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson’s new standalone trilogy. Despite the divisive online reaction to that sequel trilogy installment, Star Wars remains the second-biggest piece of IP in Hollywood, right behind Marvel. So although a December release date worked wonders for 2018’s Aquaman (which earned $335 million domestic and $1.1 billion worldwide), the King of Atlantis will likely swim to clearer waters on the release schedule.