The Merc with the Mouth is getting a head start on summer. Deadpool 2, the anticipated sequel to 2016’s Deadpool, is now hitting theaters two weeks earlier than its previous June 1 release date, as it’ll now open on May 18. Two other X-Men movies, Gambit and New Mutants, have also rescheduled.

On Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter, revealed that 21st Century Fox is moving the theatrical release for Deadpool 2 up to May 18, just a week before Disney releases the Han Solo movie Solo: A Star Wars Story. Meanwhile, Josh Boone’s mutant horror film New Mutants has been pushed back 10 months. Originally slated for April 13, New Mutants will now premiere February 22, 2019. The reason, THR says, is to avoid overlap as New Mutants and Deadpool 2 would have been released at the same time in international markets.

Gambit, the pet project of Channing Tatum that just saw its latest director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Carribbean) exit production, has also been pushed from February 13, 2019 to June 7, 2019. THR says Fox believes Gambit, which is said to have “a heavy comedic tone,” would fare better as a summer movie than a late winter/early spring release.

Deadpool 2 star Ryan Reynolds confirmed the new release date on Twitter, once again showing off his beloved katanas “Bea” and “Arthur.”

These are all big changes for Fox’s X-Men franchises, all of them appear from the outside to be smart and precautionary rather than as signs trouble behind the scenes, although a source told TheWrap that New Mutants isn’t scary enough. Still, Fox seems super confident in the power of Deadpool, proven when the first film had an outstanding box office performance — a gross of more than $780 million worldwide — in the middle of a dead cold February 2016.

While New Mutants is now a year and a month away as opposed to just four months out, the move is strategic: Fox doesn’t want to flood the box office with tertiary X-Men properties. This leaves energy and focus for X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which is still on tap for November 2.

Deadpool 2 will now be released on May 18.

Photos via YouTube.com/20th Century Fox

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