Marvel Studios hasn’t released a movie at the start of May in years, so can Thor: Love and Thunder help the MCU reclaim its box office crown in 2022?
In the studio battle, Marvel traditionally dominates the May box office, so will it reclaim the summer crown in 2022 with Thor: Love and Thunder? Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was originally scheduled to begin in May 2020, but that was before COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic and shut down theaters. With the theatrical experience gone and some productions paused for months, Marvel Studios had no choice but to delay its Phase 4 slate.
The plans for Phase 4 were first announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. This is where Marvel Studios president Kevin Fiege confirmed Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, new franchises in Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and long-awaited sequels Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. With the event also providing confirmation of the first wave of Marvel’s Disney+ shows, fans were elated to see what was coming their way so soon. But the effects of the coronavirus pandemic delayed every movie and changed the release order in some cases.
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Marvel Studios now has a set release schedule for its Phase 4 movies through the beginning of 2023. There will be more content than ever before with the addition of Disney+ shows, but Marvel is also increasing its output to release four Marvel movies every year starting with Phase 4. This includes plans for the MCU to continue using the first weekend of May to release some of its more highly anticipated movies. Thor: Love and Thunder is on the schedule to take that slot and help Marvel reclaim the May box office crown in 2022.
May Is Marvel’s Big Release Window
From the very beginning of the MCU, the first weekend of May has become a cornerstone of Marvel Studios’ plans. This weekend is where Iron Man launched in 2008 and propelled it to be one of the most talked-about movies of the summer. Marvel Studios returned to early May for Iron Man 2 in 2010, Thor in 2011, and The Avengers in 2012. Once the latter earned $1.5 billion worldwide and cemented the MCU’s place as one of the biggest movie franchises around, Marvel has continued to rely heavily on this release window.
Phase 2 saw Iron Man 3 in 2013 and Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015 take the first weekend of May release date. But after the first two phases bypassed the slot a few times, Phase 3 claimed the start of May for the MCU. Captain America: Civil War in 2016 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 2017 received the lucrative spots next. Marvel Studios altered its course slightly with Avengers: Infinity War in 2018 and Avengers: Endgame in 2019. Both movies debuted in the last weekend of April since other studios and movies already vacated the spot to not compete with the MCU’s two biggest movies. Still, Infinity War and Endgame dominated the beginning of May and performed stronger in their second weekends than most movies do in their first.
After multiple years in a row of a new MCU movie being in theaters in May, that streak came to an end in 2020. Black Widow‘s delay vacated the spot, and now Marvel is experiencing the second consecutive year without a May release. The lack of a May 2021 MCU movie comes after Black Widow was delayed again to July, where it will receive a Disney+ release simultaneously with its theatrical release. But, Marvel Studios had plans at one time to release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021. Now, Marvel Studios has to wait until 2022 to release a new movie in May and reassert its place as the true start of the summer movie season.
Why Thor: Love & Thunder Is Releasing In May 2022
As Marvel Studios looks to reclaim the May box office crown in 2022, they’ve selected Thor: Love and Thunder to help them do it. The movie was originally scheduled to come out in February 2022 but was pushed to May as part of the MCU Phase 4 release date reshuffling. Thor: Love and Thunder takes a date that was first claimed by Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This decision makes complete sense from Marvel’s perspective as the fourth Thor movie is arguably the biggest Phase 4 movie that conceivably could be ready by then. Spider-Man: No Way Home could’ve been a contender due to rumors of how the multiverse will impact the movie, but Marvel and Sony already gave it a prime December 2021 release date.
Thor: Love and Thunder is the sequel to Thor: Ragnarok and gives audiences another chance to spend time with Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder after Phase 3 made him one of the best MCU characters. Audiences responded incredibly positively to the colorful and ridiculous comedic tone of Taika Waititi’s first Marvel movie, and he’s teased that Thor 4 will be even bigger and weirder. The re-pairing of Hemsworth and Waititi is just one of many reasons why audiences are excited to see the movie. The Guardians of the Galaxy will make appearances, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster will become Mighty Thor, and there’s a star-studded cast around them that includes Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.
Considering Thor: Ragnarok made over $850 million worldwide in 2017, there will be plenty of pent-up excitement for Thor: Love and Thunder by May 2022. If the movie theater business is back to pre-pandemic attendance by next summer, there is a great shot for Thor 4 to crack $1 billion. With a marketing campaign that can hype what’s next for Hemsworth’s Thor, how Jane Foster becomes Mighty Thor, a team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and former Batman Christian Bale playing the main villain, Thor: Love and Thunder has massive mainstream appeal, which makes it the obvious choice for Marvel’s May 2022 release date.
What Thor 4’s Competition Is Like
Marvel’s chances to reclaim the May box office crown in 2022 with Thor: Love and Thunder are quite high. At the time of this writing, the MCU blockbuster is the only major release coming out the first weekend of May. While some smaller movies will surely also release on May 7, 2022, they will likely be minor examples of counter-programming instead of actual competition for Marvel. This will give Marvel the full attention of moviegoers at the start of May and last for at least two weeks, with no major movies slated to compete with Thor: Love and Thunder‘s second weekend. There aren’t any movies scheduled for the end of April that will still be major threats to the MCU when Hemsworth’s next solo movie arrives.
There will be some competition for Thor: Love and Thunder as May continues. DC’s Super Pets and Legally Blonde 3 are scheduled to arrive during Thor 4‘s third weekend in theaters. For comparison’s sake, Thor: Ragnarok made $225M of its $315M domestic total by the start of its third weekend, so Thor: Love and Thunder will likely be slowing down its box office dominance by then, anyway. Meanwhile, the end of May holds Mission: Impossible 7, John Wick: Chapter 4, and an untitled Disney live-action movie. It is expected that one of the action franchise sequels led by Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves will move, so they don’t directly compete with each other. Whichever one sticks will take more steam out of Thor: Love and Thunder‘s box office performance, but that shouldn’t stop Marvel from reclaiming the May box office crown in 2022.
MORE: Phase 4’s Biggest Accomplishment Will Be Explaining MCU Magic
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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