Will Warner Bros. actually move Aquaman's release date forward? Although Aquaman is typically treated with a sense of disdain by many comic book readers, the buzz about this movie is pretty positive, and so far marketing has been on-point. Wan recently revealed that the first full-length trailer will debut at San Diego Comic-Con next month.
The DCEU has traditionally had a very real PR problem, but there have been positive signs that Warner Bros. is beginning to recover from that. Wonder Woman was both a critical and box office success, shattering all expectations for the first female-led superhero movie in a decade. Marketing for Aquaman has already stressed the depth of the fictional world Wan has created, and the visuals look absolutely stunning. Better yet, there have been no rumblings about behind-the-scenes drama on this project; there's nothing to distract from the marketing and the trailer drop.
According to the El Fanboy podcast, Warner Bros. is increasingly confident of this movie. Mario Francisco-Robles actually reports that Warner Bros. considered dropping the trailer last week as part of that marketing push, but instead decided to hold it back in order to create a splash at SDCC. In fact, he reports that there's some rumbling about a change of release date. Warner Bros. is so confident in the film that they want to make it as competitive as possible.
Aquaman's Current Release Date is Problematic
No Star Wars film is releasing in December this year; Disney wouldn't allow Lucasfilm to push Solo: A Star Wars Story's release back, probably because December is already exceptionally crowded. There are a lot of films coming out in December aimed at action fans and family audiences. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes out on December 14. Although this is an animated superhero movie, the trailers and footage promise one of the best superhero films of the year. Aquaman drops just a week later, meaning DC's underwater hero will immediately be competing with the biggest superhero brand of all time, Spider-Man.
Worse still for Aquaman, it's one of four major releases coming out on December 21. Aquaman is competing with the Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, the comedic Holmes & Watson, and Alita: Battle Angel. The audiences of these four movies intersect, meaning each will damage the box office performance of the others. Shortly after, Disney release Mary Poppins Returns (the prime reason for no Solo movie), which is sure to draw the family audiences Aquaman is hoping will stick around. The film's current release date really doesn't work.
When Should Aquaman Release?
According to Francisco-Robles, Warner Bros. is aware of this problem and are considering bumping it forward. It wouldn't make sense to move Aquaman into November, another month that's pretty crowded (including Warner Bros. own Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald). Sticking with December, then, what date would be best? We can safely rule out December 14, given there's no way Warner Bros. will choose to drop Aquaman on the same date as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
That realistically leaves only one viable release date, December 7. As Francisco-Robles notes, that would be a smart play; all the November releases will have been out long enough for them to have no impact on the film's performance, while Aquaman will have a week to perform in the box office before Spider-Verse begins to compete. Francisco-Robles even speculates that Aquaman could pull the rug out from under Sony's animated Spider-Man movie.
If Warner Bros. is indeed going to move Aquaman's release date forward, this will likely be announced along with the trailer drop at SDCC next month. It would be a welcome sign of confidence in a DC movie, especially given how controversial the DCEU has been to date. Given a strong marketing campaign, there's no reason this adjusted release date couldn't have a marked impact on Aquaman's box office performance.