Disney has announced a major Marvel movie release date change for Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The untitled Marvel movie that was originally scheduled for February 16, 2024 has been delayed to September 6, 2024. That particular release date change is significant, indeed: there had been a lot of speculation that Marvel Studios was reserving that February release date for one specific movie franchise: Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool 3.
20th Century Fox wisely chose to launch the first Deadpool film on February 8, 2016, where it went on to break numerous records on its opening weekend, and ran largely unchallenged for weeks, going on to ultimately become the highest-grossing X-Men movie of all time; the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, and winning many awards, accolades, and a whopping $782.6 million worldwide on a $58 million budget. Deadpool 2 tried to release in the early (but crowded) summer of 2018, wedged between Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Deadpool 2 still did well enough ($785.8 million on a $110 million budget), but it was clearly a better launch strategy to hit the slower theatrical window of February; and it seemed like Marvel was going back to form in that sense.
So is this movie NOT Deadpool 3?
Well, even with the release date change there's still plenty of good reason to speculate that this project is Deadpool 3. We already know director Shawn Levy (Free Guy, The Adam Project), Ryan Reynolds, and franchise writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are all at work behind the scenes on pre-production for the film – including Reynolds formally hitting the gym again. That still syncs with an expcted late-2022 or early-2023 production start, with ample time now being given to get shooting and (proper) post-production done.
It's also no industry secret that September mirrors February in terms of being slow for major blockbuster movie releases – meaning that same release strategy could still apply to Deadpool 3. In fact, Marvel's September release will be following one of bigger summers ever, with Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3, Disney's The Little Mermaid, Fast X, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, The Flash, Indiana Jones 5, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, Barbie, Oppenheimer, The Marvels, Gran Turismo, and Blue Beetle all on the summer release slate.