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Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange

It's been less than a month since Marvel Studios mapped out brand new release dates for its upcoming Phase Four slate. Since Black Widow's May release had to be delayed due to movie theater closures, the entire release calendar for the interconnected universe moved over like a row of dominoes. The studio has now decided to shuffle more of its release dates, including a four-month push for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Marvel Studios has announced that Sam Raimi's sequel starring Benedict Cumberbatch's Master of the Mystic Arts will now hit theaters on March 25, 2022 instead of November 5, 2021. When Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was originally introduced at last summer's San Diego Comic Con, it was set to come out in May 2021.

The push was initiated by the third Spider-Man movie starring Tom Holland needing room to swing off its original July 16, 2021 release date to take Doctor Strange 2’s spot. Spider-Man’s third standalone outing in the MCU was expected to start shooting this July and run through November 2020. And before July, Tom Holland was set to start filming on Sony’s Uncharted.

Sony has already shifted the release date of Uncharted from March 5, 2021 to October 8, 2021, so even if Hollywood productions get the A-OK to begin in summer, Sony needs lead-way for Tom Holland to be on the set of both of those projects. (Spider-Man 3 is a collaboration between Disney’s Marvel Studios and Sony.)

Marvel has also chosen to move the release date of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder up a week from February 18, 2022 to February 11, 2022. One note here is now the third Tom Holland Spider-Man film will be released four months before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, after the original Phase Four slate had Doctor Strange 2 debuted in theaters two months before Spidey’s return.

With these changes in mind, there are four Marvel films scheduled for release in the first half of 2022. Aside from Thor's February date and Doctor Strange in March, Black Panther 2 is set for May 6 and Captain Marvel 2 for July 8, 2022. There is also an empty October slot paved for Marvel, so it's entirely possible we could see five MCU movies that year.

The release dates also make for an interesting shift in tradition for both titles. Back in 2016, the first Doctor Strange hit theaters in November, and now the sequel is at an early spring date. Both Tom Holland-led flicks have also been released in July, and every live-action Spider-Man film until now has come out between May and July.

This is just one of many shakeups that have occurred behind the scenes for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Scott Derrickson was originally set to resume his role as director for the sequel until it was announced he would be stepping aside in January. Derrickson exited the project due to “creative differences,” but will continue to executive produce the film.

The Spider-Man trilogy’s Sam Raimi will officially direct after seven years away from the director’s chair for a major feature film. Benedict Cumberbatch will return and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will also star. Disney+ series WandaVision is also reported to be connected to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more Marvel updates.

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