Movie release dates are usually set after the completion of post-production and is then determined based on the film's potential, the studio's current release schedule, past performance of similar films and competitive releases from other studios. The release date of a film often differs between continents, and it can sometimes be pushed backwards or forwards, depending on how the studio predicts its performance.
Release dates are predominantly determined by the type of film and the season. Studios have realized that certain types of films do well in different parts of the year; this is why big-budget action films are often released in the summer and holiday-themed films are released in the winter. Studios do not want their films competing against high-profile films from other studios, so studios often make sure to schedule their releases on different weekends.
Sometimes, a studio delays a film's release or accelerates it to meet the scheduling requirements of an award show, such as the Oscars, if the studio believes that it may receive an award; for example, Steven Spielberg's "Munich" received a limited release in December 2005 and then a wider release in January 2006. Studios have also begun to plan out film releases years in advance; this helps sets production goals for franchise films, such as Sony's Marvel films or Disney's Star Wars.