New ‘Wolverine,’ ‘Fantastic Four 2’ and ‘Taken 3’ get release dates

There have been rumors that 20th Century Fox and director Josh Trank might not be on the same page for the studio's new “Fantastic Four” flick, but it's clear someone will be helming the reboot.  “Fantastic Four” is scheduled for release on June 15, 2015.  Tonight, Fox dated “Fantastic Four 2” for July 14, 2017.  So, yes, it's happening.

More intriguingly, the studio also dated “Untitled Wolverine” for March 3, 2017.  That would be the first superhero movie that Fox has released outside of the summer months since they dumped “Elektra” in January of 2005.  The James Mangold directed sequel to “The Wolverine” will come less than 10 months after “X-Men: Apocalypse” arrives over the 2016 Memorial Day weekend.

And as for “X-Men” movies, the studio also dated “Untitled X-Men/Marvel” for July 13, 2018.  Now, don't get too excited by the “Marvel” part.  No one expects Fox and Marvel Studios to officially team up on anything anytime soon. Could it be a third “X-Men” film after “Days of Future Past” and “Apocalypse”?  Sure. It could also be an X-Men/Fantastic Four team-up.  

The Century City based studio also announced the inevitable “Taken 3” for Jan. 9, 2015 and “Untitled Ridley Scott” flick for March 4, 2016  (“Prometheus 2” possibly?). 

A few of the studio's films already in production are moving around the schedule. “Frankenstein” with Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy is moving from Jan 16. to Oct. 2 2015.  Matthew Vaughn's “The Secret Service” (think R-rated James Bond) is arriving this year on Oct. 24.  It was originally slotted for March 6.

There are two very intriguing aspects to all these new Fox dates. First, and it's not a huge surprise, the studio is investing heavily in its Marvel properties as tentpoles for the next four years.  If the films go into production there is no shot of Disney getting control of Marvel's mutants or first family anytime this decade.

Second, March is a hot, hot, month for distributors.  It used to be that the third frame of the year was a nice window for an animated family flick or two.  Now, the all-ages success of blockbusters such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” “The Hunger Games” and “21 Jump Street,” among others, has made Hollywood consider it a tentpole garden. This year we've got “Divergent” (pacing for a $45-60 million opening) and “Noah” (looking at over $45 million).  2015 has Disney's live action “Cinderella,” “Divergent” sequel “Insurgent” and the Will Ferrell meets Kevin Hart comedy “Get Hard.” And now 2016 has – potentially – “Prometheus 2” and Universal's “Warcraft” adaptation.  2017 brings “Wolverine” to the table. So much for “Beware the Ides of March.”

Of course, for years Hollywood has said that if you really have a true blockbuster you can open it any time of year. Audiences will come if it's worth their time.  “Gravity” proved that last October and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will win that argument in early April.  As for these “new” Fox titles?  That remains to be seen.

Which new Fox flick are you most excited about? Share your thoughts below.