Marvel Studios is on a roll. Earlier this year “Iron Man 3” earned $1.2 billion worldwide, while the year before that “The Avengers” earned over $1.5 billion. Even with characters that aren’t necessarily as popular, like Thor and Captain America, Marvel is making a mint.
In fact, they are so confident about their prospects that the budget of the upcoming “Thor: The Dark World” has increased significantly over the prior film, which cost $150 million, compared to $200 million for “The Dark World.”
But their boldest move yet has to be placing their upcoming “Ant-Man” against the sequel to “Man of Steel”, which opens two weeks earlier.
Two weeks earlier!? Does that really matter, you’re probably asking yourself.
Think of it this way: Sometimes the greatest impact of a tsunami is felt after the storm hits, which is why what Marvel is doing takes some seriously large cojones.
It’s even a bolder move when you consider that Ant-Man is a character from Marvel’s vault that most people have never heard of, in a film directed by Edgar Wright, a very talented director who’s hardly a household name on this side of the pond.
And it’s worth keeping in mind that the biggest thing that Wright has directed till this point was “Scott Pilgrim Versus The World,” which underperformed at the box office.
“Man of Steel” director Zach Snyder, has also helmed a few underperforming films in his time, such as “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch,” though he redeemed himself with “Man of Steel, which earned over $660 million.
Besides, not to state the obvious, but Batman Vs. Superman has both Batman AND Superman in it, which is almost a license to print money.
And despite the controversial casting of Ben Affleck as Batman rubbing some Batfans the wrong way, it may end up a net plus because those same individuals that hated his casting may still see the film, if only out of morbid curiosity.
The Batman franchise also isn’t short for profits, especially since Christopher Nolan’s trilogy has earned almost $2 billion dollars, making it the fifth highest grossing series in North America.
So, what’s Marvel thinking? Is Wright’s Ant-Man being prepped as some sort of sacrificial lamb? Or is Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, planning something?
Only time will tell, though I suspect “Ant-Man” is going to do very, very well, despite the presence of Batman and Superman, though this will be based mainly upon how much Wright’s film costs to produce.
If it comes somewhere in the ballpark of $50-70 million, it’s all good because, despite the high likelihood that the 800-pound gorilla known as “Batman Vs. Superman” sucking all the oxygen out of the box office, “Ant-Man” won’t need to beat it at the box office to be successful, it just needs to be interesting and quirky enough to draw viewers (some of whom will also have seen Snyder’s film) curious to see the latest hero from Marvel’s stable.
And creating interesting and quirky films is something Edgar Wright excels at.