'Black Widow': How does 'Wonder Woman 1984's early release impact the Scarlett Johansson-starrer and the MCU?
If anything, Marvel will have scheduling as one of their major problems. They have anyway vaulted over DC in terms of BO numbers and ratings continually over the years
It was inevitable. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the world as we know it has been forced to shut down, echoing the words of Robert Downey Jr, "I am sorry, Earth is closed today" in 'Avengers: Infinity War'. Shifting the focus to the movie and TV industry, just about 90% of new releases on both platforms have seen delays and shutdowns with production houses forced to come up with new strategies when this is all over.
As far as Marvel goes, this was supposed to be their biggest year. Soon after the release of their behemoth, 'Avengers: Endgame', they rolled out a meticulously planned Phase 4 that had a string of shows and movies lined up to make their debut. Except, the pandemic's thrown a spanner into the works. 'Black Widow', their first film of Phase 4 was originally scheduled to hit theaters on May 1 but has been pushed amidst the virus concerns.
The move saw the Scarlett Johansson-starrer join the list of much-anticipated flicks whose release dates have been pushed between six months to a year. Marvel's key rival was Gal Gadot's 'Wonder Woman 1984', a sequel to the hit 2017 DC blockbuster. The Patty Jenkins-helmed sequel was slated for a June 5 release, but eventually moved the debut date to August 14 causing a six-week delay.
What would this mean to Marvel?
Well, as far as competition goes, both franchises have their dedicated fan base across the world, with Marvel definitely being the topper when it comes to trumping DC with respect to box office numbers, ratings and returns on investment. Reviews.org was kind enough to share some stats that lend proof that Marvel was well-ahead of the curve when it comes to the Marvel vs DC battle. The site combined the ratings of films from both franchises over the years.
But this isn't to say that DC has not doled out hits. It's the biggest performer was 'Aquaman', which notched up 74% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The last big Marvel release was 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' in 2019 with a 95% audience rating. Moving on the next factor, BO numbers. It's 2-0 for Marvel as they clearly stand undefeated as far as making the big bucks is concerned.
Notice that 'The Avengers' (2012), which released a good seven years before 'Aquaman' has still vaulted over the latter. While these stats prove that 'Black Widow' may not really be affected by the early release of 'Wonder Woman 1984', it's not to say they don't have a headache.
According to Screenrant, DC's next big release after 'WW1984' is Matt Reeves' 'The Batman' in 2021. As for Marvel, their Phase 4 schedule sees 'Black Widow' followed by 'Eternals' in November. Add the Disney+ series in between, it was their year to reign when it came to superhero content, except coronavirus actually decided to do a Thanos.
If anything, Marvel will have scheduling as one of their major problems. The first conundrum would be the release date. They would be tempted to release sometime in October, but that would mean edging closer to 'Eternals', one of their big-budget space hero film due November this year. Should their option be to use 'Eternals' slot for 'Black Widow', then it would be a domino effect with each film taking the next flick's release date. The same can be said of their TV series as well.
Plus, both films have their own angles that tie up the storylines. 'Black Widow' serves as a prequel, while 'Eternals' will pick up in the aftermath of 'Avengers: Endgame'. Closer dates would mean less time to comprehend the content of both the films.
This theory, of course, is pure speculation. The other possibility is Marvel waiting for the pandemic curve to flatten significantly and should that happen by June, we just might look at a release between July and September, which means 'Eternals' will get to retain its original release date.
For 'WW1984' this is a chance to go up first and take the spotlight. With the success of 'Wonder Woman', the sequel brings with massive hope and expectations of going one up over DC and this might be their chance to shine. Nonetheless, for now, all wheels have stopped turning with the pandemic, wreaking havoc and putting a full stop to present and future plans of both franchises. Only time will tell how Marvel solves this dilemma? Or has it?