Disney announced two big changes to its summer 2015 release schedule today, with one film moving into the mix and another moving out. The opening salvo of Marvel’s Phase 3, The World’s End director Edgar Wright’s take on Ant-Man, is now targeting July 31, 2015, just three months after Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron. It takes over the role of Disney’s late summer tentpole from Pirates of the Carribbean 5, which could move back as far as 2016 due to ongoing script rewrites.
First, Ant-Man. Fans are certainly rejoicing the move up from November 6th. Hopefully this means the script is ready to go and a cast is close to being finalized rather than Disney scrambling to find something to fill space and rushing the project into production. Intriguing also is the new release date’s proximity to that of two other movies that figure to be massive draws in summer 2015: the aforementioned Avengers sequel and Warner Bros.’ Batman vs. Superman. The latter is currently scheduled to release just two weeks before Ant-Man‘s new slot, and while the more obscure insectine hero is unlikely to challenge the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel directly, as part of the Marvel juggernaut it could certainly leech turnout from Warners’ pic. As for Ant-Man‘s proximity to Avengers, we’ve already speculated as to the potential connections between the two movies, and Ant-Man may be depending on audiences’ memory of Age of Ultron. Certainly Iron Man 3 played heavily off the first Avengers, but it dealt less in specifics and more in easily identifiable emotions, making the year long gap between them mostly inconsequential.
As for Pirates (currently subtitled Dead Men Tell No Tales), The Hollywood Reporter has shared a number of telling details based on an interview with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The production is apparently being influenced heavily by the massive bomb of The Lone Ranger this past July. One of the chief reasons writer Jeff Nathanson’s first draft of the script was rejected was that it called for too many large (and expensive) set pieces. Bruckheimer also revealed that the plot was considered too complex. Nathanson has since delivered an outline that has been approved, and is at work redrafting the script. We can only hope that the change from “too complex” doesn’t actually equal “dumbed down,” as has a tendency to happen in situations like this when so many people (by the sound of it) are weighing in. Because of the incomplete nature of the script, pre-production has been halting, and it’s possible that Pirates could end up being pushed all the way to 2016.
The other part of this whole equation may be the glut of tentpole-type films that Disney expects to distribute in 2015. Coupled with Pirates delay, moving Ant-Man to a summer release could be as simple as clearing space for Star Wars: Episode VII if it indeed keeps to a late 2015 release (it’s had its own delay rumors). As a side note: who wants to take bets on what will be the highest grossing film of 2015?