A few weeks back, I expressed pretty abject confusion about Fox’s decision to rearrange its big X-Men properties around on their release slate. I just didn’t see any sense in shifting Deadpool to the crowded May release frame, nor did I see the reasoning for pushing back New Mutants a massive 10 months down the calendar (aside from the assumption that the film was in trouble, which Fox of course categorically denied.) I tried to wrap my head around it based on the PR spin Fox was utilizing, and I started to see how maybe there was a little sense then. After all, their reason for shifting these two films was because they were afraid of oversaturating their releases, and believed that some space between the two was necessary. Sure, more than half a year of space might seem like an overreaction but, I can see that reason for moving the releases to their new dates…if I squinted REALLY hard.
But now Fox has once again rearranged their next year of releases, shifting two of their biggest blockbusters from their previous release dates and adding yet another. And, believe it or not, said shifts only make their schedule even MORE confusing. Even if, on the surface, you can see the logic of what they did on an individual basis. Let’s jump right into it.
Starting with Alita: Battle Angel, the freaky looking sci-fi anime adaptation from director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron. Fox seemed pretty intent on having this one be one of their big tentpoles of the summer, but no longer — the studio has pushed the film a substantial five months, from a July 20 launch all the way to December 21, 2018. This is the pre-Christmas release spot that obviously served Cameron’s Avatar quite well, and has helped similar blockbusters ever since.
…Which is why it’s currently occupied by two other huge blockbusters in the form of Paramount’s Bumblebee and Warner Bros’ Aquaman. That’s not to mention Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a week earlier, and Disney’s own Mary Poppins Returns a week late. It’s an insanely crowded release area, is what I’m saying, and there’s absolutely no way in hell Alita: Battle Angel is going to break out as a stange looking sci-fi film with little franchise awareness. It already had slim chances at the end of July, but Christmas 2018? Fox just sent the genre picture out there to die, regardless of its quality.
Meanwhile, Fox has also shifted the release of another one of its summer blockbusters, Shane Black’s The Predator. Originally set for release on August 3, The Predator will now land on September 14. While that used to be a dump month, the gargantuan success of It (and, on a smaller scale, Fox’s own Kingsman: The Golden Circle) makes this now a viable month for more horror-tinged blockbusters, a factor I’m sure Fox considered when it moved the film. Still, this is a strange decision in that it leaves Fox with only ONE blockbuster this summer, the aforementioned Deadpool. Which was moved to May, in the fear that it was releasing too close to New Mutant’s previous April date. But you know what would have helped that? Putting Deadpool 2 on the July 20 date now left vacant of any big summer blockbuster (unless you count Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again). Instead, Deadpool 2 now has to compete with the tail end of Avengers: Infinity War, and have its own legs cut off by Solo: A Star Wars Story…for some reason.
Anyways, in less confusing release date moves, Fox has placed Murder on the Orient Express sequel Jewel on the Nile for a release date of November 8, 2019. Of the three release date, this one makes the most sense, as Murder quietly made over $100 million domestic with a similar early November date. And though Wonder Woman 2 might make for some heavy competition just a week before…look, there’s like NO room left anymore for a would-be blockbuster to have any time to itself, so a week break is all Jewel on the Nile can probably ask for. This was a smart release date decision on Fox’s part. But I can’t say that for their decisions overall! I guess we’ll see who is right, though, when all these films hit theaters. Which, to reiterate, is…
- Deadpool 2 on May 18, 2018
- The Predator on September 14, 2018
- Alita: Battle Angel on December 21, 2018
- New Mutants on February 22, 2018
- Jewel on the Nile on November 8, 2019
As always, these are where the release dates rest right now. Who knows what can shift in the months ahead. Stay tuned.
Also published on Medium.