Biff! Pow! Marvel and DC Comics Battle for 2016

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Comic book fans and Time Warner (TWX) shareholders were disappointed to hear that the blockbuster movie Batman vs. Superman was pushed back a year. The movie, which will bring the two legendary comic book characters to the big screen together, will now be released May 6, 2016.

But comic fans may not be totally disappointed. On May 6, 2016, theaters will pit Disney's (DIS) Marvel unit against Time Warner's DC Comics division. They will both release films on the same day.

Fans should be elated. It's a battle of the Titans.


Despite the rumors that the delay is due to behind-schedule shooting, Batman vs. Superman is currently underway. Warner Brothers says that the movie was pushed back to give "the filmmakers time to realize fully their vision, given the complex vision nature of the story." But Time Warner will miss out on a big chunk of potential revenue for 2015 with the delayed release of the blockbuster.

To offset the delay, Time Warner will move up Pan, its take on the classic Peter Pan story. But Peter and and the Lost Boys will have some unwelcome company -- and not Captain Hook this time. After Time Warner postponed Batman vs. Superman, Disney announced that it was moving up Marvel's Ant-Man by two weeks to capitalize on a longer summer release window. That move will likely hurt Time Warner and Pan significantly.

Disney will win this 2015 comic book battle royale with the release of Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, things may be different in 2016. Time Warner's DC Comics unit could be creating the start of a huge movie franchise with their Batman and Superman pairing. That could pave the way for an Avengers-like Justice League movie.

As I have pointed out before, I believe Time Warner could see good upside from DC Comics, since it owns the rights to all the characters, unlike Marvel, which licenses out Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and the X-Men characters.

In 2016, Batman vs. Superman will go head-to-head with an untitled Marvel franchise. Marvel will likely announce exactly what movie that will be later this year. Marvel was brilliant in announcing that it would release movies on May 6, 2016, and May 5, 2017. This in a way blocked other studios from releasing movies during a key summer weekend, due to the fear of competition. If both movies keep their release dates, it will be quite the matchup.

While Time Warner and Disney could be in for huge box office results and share price increases, keep in mind that the movie theater operators could be the big winners. Companies like AMC (AMC), Regal Cinemas (RGC) and Cinemark (CNK) benefit from having multiple blockbusters in the summer. Another company to watch is IMAX (IMAX), which has shown movies from both studios and will likely have to pick either Batman vs. Superman or the untitled Marvel film.

Stay tuned for the next battle in DC vs. Marvel.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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