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Hey, want to go to the movies...in 2018?

Movie execs look years ahead for the perfect release dates

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You may not know what movie you want to see next weekend, but film execs are already thinking about what movie you might see in five years. It used to be that films were announced one or sometimes two years in advance, but studios are now scrambling to claim dates far in the future: See Angry Birds (July 1, 2016), How to Train Your Dragon 3 (June 17, 2016), and two Amazing Spider-Man sequels (in June 2016 and May 2018). As the calendar gets cluttered, studios have even begun squatting on dates for movies that aren’t fully conceived yet, in hopes of capturing prime release slots. Fox recently announced 10 yet-to-be-titled animated projects for 2017 and 2018, and none has a production studio officially attached. Disney followed suit, announcing Untitled Pixar Animation and Marvel Untitled films for 2016-18. ”Pixar’s had a great track record with that third week in June,” says Dave Hollis, Disney’s president of distribution. ”The idea with future dating is…creating some muscle memory with consumers.” Not everyone is taking the territory marking seriously. ”I look at [all this] and I laugh,” says Universal’s distribution president, Nikki Rocco. ”Whenever you start dating something that far in advance, you know they’re all going to move.”