How are theatrical release dates determined?

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BearSkinBathRobe's Avatar
"That may be, but I've got the Falcon."
Wife and I just got back from Birds of Prey, and she asked me if releasing a "comic book movie" around this time (mid-February) was a wise choice and if Warner Bros. just had to take what they could get regarding available release date "slots." She then went on to say "obviously Marvel & Disney have the summertime slots taken." I told her I'd ask you guys here since I consider y'all aficionados of the silver screen.


-Are theatrical release dates arbitrary?
-Are theatrical release dates bought or bid on?
-Why would a distribution studio pick February?


I've heard of "they had so many movies, they just decided to push this one out whenever" when a studio has a lot of flicks coming out in a single year.


Fun question: What movie(s) did you feel were released at the perfect time of year? What movie(s) did you feel was released at the worst time possible?


My pick would be Batman Returns, a snowy/wintry film released June 16th. Logic I'm guessing is the "it's a comic book movie; summertime is best!" Same time nearly as the original, and the new upcoming one is the same time. I'm not saying this was a big reason as to why it killed the franchise, but personally in summertime I don't feel like watching a movie about Christmas and wintertime.
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Blockbusters are typically released during the Summer when school has let out. This is typically referred to as “blockbuster” season.
The fall and winter is usually reserved for the Oscar hopefuls. This is referred to as “Awards Season”. It is usually because they are fresher in the minds of the voters. Doesn’t always work. (Braveheart was a Spring release I think? Silence of the Lambs was released in February as I recall?)
Sometimes release date are scheduled to avoid competition with another film or a similar film.
There’s so much planning when it comes to release dates. Alot of strategy, it isn’t arbitrary.



Wife and I just got back from Birds of Prey, and she asked me if releasing a "comic book movie" around this time (mid-February) was a wise choice and if Warner Bros. just had to take what they could get regarding available release date "slots." She then went on to say "obviously Marvel & Disney have the summertime slots taken." I told her I'd ask you guys here since I consider y'all aficionados of the silver screen.


-Are theatrical release dates arbitrary?
-Are theatrical release dates bought or bid on?
-Why would a distribution studio pick February?


I've heard of "they had so many movies, they just decided to push this one out whenever" when a studio has a lot of flicks coming out in a single year.


Fun question: What movie(s) did you feel were released at the perfect time of year? What movie(s) did you feel was released at the worst time possible?


My pick would be Batman Returns, a snowy/wintry film released June 16th. Logic I'm guessing is the "it's a comic book movie; summertime is best!" Same time nearly as the original, and the new upcoming one is the same time. I'm not saying this was a big reason as to why it killed the franchise, but personally in summertime I don't feel like watching a movie about Christmas and wintertime.

Typically it's done on rotation


The last three years...released in February

2018 - Deadpool
2019 - Black Panther
2020 - Captain Marvel


As for release schedule, it's more about windows than just simply Summer/Winter/Fall/Spring.


For studios they will often stack their competitive films in weeks where their isn't a major new release.


March 6th - Onward(Pixar)
March 20th - A Quiet Place II
March 27th - Mulan
April 10th - No Time to Die


So March 13th - 8 smaller films will come out in the hopes that one will hit to avoid the onslaught of a Pixar film.


April 4th - or you'll have a faceoff between a family film (Peter Rabbit II) and a teen film (New Mutants)


Spacing is a big thing you wouldn't have Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn come out within a month of each other



Ami-Scythe's Avatar
A bucket of anxiety
I never thought about that. I always thought they scheduled their movies to be done at a certain date. I don't know why I never considered a film just being done and held onto waiting to be shown at the right time.
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Ami-Scythe