NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Time Warner's (TWX) Warner Bros. studios is surely enjoying the dominance of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, now a three-peat weekend No. 1 for global box office sales. The rest of the year doesn't look nearly as bright as Warner Bros. will face an onslaught of superheroes, primarily from rival Walt Disney's (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report Marvel Studios.
Based on projections from Doug Stone of Box Office Analyst, The Battle of the Five Armies, released in December, could gross as much as $290 million domestically. That's a nice total to mark the final installment of the studio's lucrative Middle Earth pipeline, or at least until Warner Bros can come up with another way to sell magic rings, orcs and wizards.
But what comes next for Warner Bros., and will it ever catch up to Walt Disney?
The Hobbit aside, Warner Bros. is playing catchup, trying to tie together its disparate superhero movie properties in much the same way Disney's Marvel Studios was forced to overhaul or at least re-focus its operations starting in 2008. Disney, of course, has been on a roll: the 10 interconnected movies from Marvel Studios have collectively generated nearly $7.2 billion in revenue worldwide, according to box office revenue tracker Box Office Mojo.
Having to play catchup isn't unfamiliar territory for Warner Bros.
In recent years, the studio has brought Batman and Superman to the screen, most famously through Christian Bale's gravelly voiced Dark Knight. Additionally, Man of Steel, the Superman feature released in 2013, brought in some $668 million worldwide and became the launching point for the studio's forthcoming slate of connected movies based on DC Comics superheroes. A follow-up, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is slated for a 2016 release.
Between now and then, though, theaters will be inundated with superhero movies. Marvel Studios this year will release Avengers: Age of Ultron in May and Ant-Man in July. Even 21st Century Fox (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Class A Report will be in the superhero game this year, with its reboot of The Fantastic Four due in August from its Twentieth Century Fox studio.
This year Warner Bros. has no shortage of big budget movies on the way, including post-apocalyptic action flick Mad Max: Fury Road and disaster film San Andreas both due in May. When 2016 does roll around, a war will be on for the superhero movie audience.
Next year, Warner Bros. will have more than Batman v Superman in theaters. The studio plans to also release Suicide Squad, a movie based on a team of DC Comics antiheroes and villains forced to work together. That same year, their rivals at Marvel Studios will release two more superhero movies, Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. Over at Fox, yet another two movies in the genre, X-Men: Apocalypse and Deadpool, are scheduled for release in 2016.
From then on, competition will only intensify.
According to Box Office Analyst, Warner Bros. Entertainment plans to release two superhero movies annually, at least through 2020. However, Marvel Studios plans to crank up its pace with three superhero movies booked each year for 2017 and 2018, plus more projects beyond.
It may take some exceptional super powers for the major studios to make their tent-pole films stand out in a field increasingly saturated by big budget superhero movies.
TheStreet Ratings team rates TIME WARNER INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate TIME WARNER INC (TWX) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: TWX Ratings Report
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.