Captain America: The Winter Soldier is opening this weekend, and with it comes a likely paradigm shift. In a way, Captain America 2 could be ground zero for a new way to look at the release schedule.

As I’ve said before, Hollywood targets May through the first week of August, and November and December (with March now also a high grosser) as the period to release blockbusters. January, February, mostly April and September were considered dumping zones. But Marvel, looking to possibly generate three or four films a year, needs to have those months as options. If Marvel starts pumping out three films a year, they need some gap between each release. They pushed out Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger in the same summer, but that was partly out of necessity/nervousness. They wanted to make The Avengers; they had to make The Avengers.

But with a three or four month window, the last film is hitting home video just as the new one is hitting theaters. The perpetual motion machine keeps on. This may eventually cause a revolt against comic book movies, but with The Winter Soldier hitting this weekend with a likely $90 Million plus opening weekend, there’s no reason to think that the time of year effects the eventual business. Perhaps children’s films will target holidays and summers on the theory that’s when they have less schooling, but we’ve also seen animated films in January and March do quite well.

Part of this is a change in audience. There are less people going to the movies than ever before, and people mostly go to the theater to see something they’re pre-sold on. It’s hard to be too superstitious about opening weekends when you’re giving people something you know they want. Heck, Independence Day weekend was the big summer weekend for years before it migrated to the first of May. Look at 1998, all of sixteen years ago, where Deep Impact came out May 8, and Armageddon July 1. And guess which made more money?

With April a possible launching point, we may see studios let their calendars breathe, but it may also mean that their goal of making mostly hundred million dollar titles that can be sold worldwide will mean we’ll get pummeled with event films. The big thing about Marvel is that they have a brand and they know how to use it, so their model may not be as applicable to studio work. Marvel lets audiences take chances, as there seems to be good quality control. They may be the first studio that closely resembles Starbucks.

So for this weekend:

  1. Cap 2 - $97.3 Million

I’m going to go high, because why not?

What are you going to watch this weekend?