These days, it’s not about the star, or the director, or even the project itself, it’s the release date. They say in real estate the three most important things are location, location, location, but usually there’s a house at that location, and not a vague reference to something that might be a house. Or it might be a parking lot or strip mall. Hollywood’s like that. We’re going to buy a piece of land, and build something there. It might be one story, or it might be seven stories. It might be a bungalow, or it might be a nuclear power plant. You know, whatever. The point is we got the land. In that spirit, Universal Pictures is playing musical chairs with their release dates, moving aside some hotly anticipated franchises in order to make room for the next chapter of newer, more valuable pieces.
First, Warcraft, the highly anticipated adaptation of the MMORPG World of Warcraft is moving from the relatively chilled release date of March 11, 2016, where it would enjoy a few weeks of box office dominance ahead of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, to June 10, 2016. On that date, Warcraft will have to due battle with The Conjuring 2, Now You See Me 2 and Uncharted, so look for one or two of those players to shuffle their release soon.
Next, a note of apology to anyone looking forward to Pacific Rim 2 because it’s being moved from an April 7, 2017 release, and is now coming out on August 4, 2017. Why? Gotta make room for Furious 8! The next chapter in the Fast and the Furious franchise will come out on April 14, 2017. The only surprise here is that Universal is waiting two years to get a new Furious into theaters, the latest movie, Furious 7, has made over a billion dollars worldwide in just three weeks of release.
Speaking of sequels to big hits of 2015, the follow-up adaptations of Fifty Shades of Grey have also been scheduled. Fifty Shades Darker will come out on February 10, 2017, while Fifty Shades Freed will come out the next year on February 9, 2018. Thankfully, the final book of the Fifty Shades trilogy is not being split to create two movies.
As for another franchise that Universal is working hard to make a thing, the series of movies based on its famous classic Monsters, The Mummy remake has been pushed back several months from June 24, 2016 to March 24, 2017, while the “Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Film” will be pushed back another year from April 21, 2017, to March 30, 2018.
In case you’re wondering, 2017 is already pretty crowded with the planned release of several high-profile movies including Star Wars Episode VIII, Justice League Part 1, Toy Story 4, Spectacular Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, Ghost in the Shell, Wolverine 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Thor: Ragnarok. That’s a pretty full dance card before Universal decided to change things, and there are going to be all kids of movies that have yet to scheduled for 2017 yet because nobody knows they’re making them. Where’s the element of surprise, Hollywood?
Of course, surprise would imply originality. How silly of me…