Hollywood Beat: 2015, Year of Superheroes and STAR WARS; X-MAN Musical Director's Chairs
Disney buying Lucasfilm? And producing another Star Wars movie? Suddenly, 2015 sounds like the new official Year of the Geek.
If Disney's plans for world domination work out, they will kick off the summer of 2015 with The Avengers 2 on the first weekend of May, capture kids and adults with Pete Docter's untitled project known as The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind on June 19, begin a new phase of superhero adventures with Edgar Wright's Ant-Man on November 6, and then roll out another Pixar movie, thought to be Lee Unkrich's Dia de los Muertos project, on November 25.
So where does Star Wars: Episode 7 fit into the schedule?
Bear in mind that Warner Bros. "recently announced their intention to get a Justice League movie ready in time for the summer of 2015. If they aim for the third weekend in July -- the same weekend that they released The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises this year -- that would leave open the long Fourth of July holiday weekend for Star Wars.
While the North American summer is by far the most profitable time period to release blockbusters -- and Episodes 1-3 all opened in May -- Disney doesn't have to stick with that timetable, but there's no doubt that they have a specific date in mind. There's also the possibility that, by announcing their intention to release a new Star Wars movie in 2015, the studio wants to strike a little fear into their tentpole competitor Warner Bros. Studios often play scheduling games to secure the best release dates for themselves, and scare their competitors into changing their plans.
Of course, all this is subject to change, and has nothing to do with the movies themselves.
If you think, however, that it's silly to worry about movies you might want to see three years down the road, remember that the studios are making huge investments of money in these potential blockbusters, and that each phase of making the movie itself takes months, if not years. And once the franchise gets established, the studio wants the next installment as soon as possible.
Reportedly, Fox had genuine concerns about whether Matthew Vaughn would complete X-Men: First Class in time to meet its planned release date of June 3, 2011. He met his deadlines, he made a better movie than anticipated, and the studio reaped the benefits. Back in 2005, Vaughn walked off X-Men 3 two months before production began, and was only considered for X-Men: First Class after Bryan Singer had availability issues. But he had redeemed himself in the eyes of Hollywood and saved a franchise. Fox slated a sequel for July 28, 2014.
Last week, Vaughn vacated the director's chair for X-Men: Days of Future Past, a little more than two months before the start of production.
Bryan Singer, who is serving as a producer on the project, has now been confirmed to replace him as director. (Vaughn will remain on board as a producer.) With the disappointment of Superman Returns years behind him, Singer has moved forward, first with the thriller Valkyrie and more recently with Jack the Giant Slayer, due for release in April 2013. He also snuck in the pilot episode of Mockingbird Lane (AKA The Munsters reboot for television), which is quite entertaining and displays his skills on a lean budget and a tight schedule.
Earlier this year, Singer talked to IGN about connectivity: "I think there's a strong desire to broaden out the universe. The X-Men universe on its own is as big as the Marvel universe and I think it's time to reach out and explore it and perhaps even bring some connectivity between the films as Marvel's done so well." That thought was echoed by Mark Millar after the writer was hired as a creative consultant by Fox for their superhero properties.
Fox has James Mangold's The Wolverine set for July 26, 2013, the X-Men sequel, as noted, on July 28, 2014, and the Fantastic Four reboot, to be directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle) remains undated, though Fox wants it to be Trank's next project. That might mean a late 2014 release date, or possibly even ... 2015?
The Year of the Geek could get crazy.
Hollywood Beat is a weekly column on the film and TV industry.