It seems that Dark Phoenix, the final installment of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men film franchise was destined to fail right from the get go. Of course, the first film helped usher in a wave of adaptations which would eventually lead up to the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, and to a certain extent the DC Extended Universe. However, after debuting with a weak $33 million, it is starting to look like X-Men is more X-Meh.
And like most big budget films that don’t to live up to expectations, there is always some sort of behind the scenes troubles that may have contributed to failures. That is no different with Dark Phoenix. More on the report below.
THR has a full breakdown on what may have led up to this massive box office disappointment that is the final installment of the X-Men film franchise. Among the problems that may have factored into it was that studio execs and producers did not learn the lessons from X-Men: Apocalypse. They doubled down on them. A Fox insider familiar with those meetings told THR:
“There was a misguided feeling that [Apocalypse] was an anomaly, that we just got it wrong. We were wrong.”
Though the film franchise has been rebooted through First Class, an exec likened the fatigue and reboots to James Bond and Star Wars, and added that those franchises had their ups and downs. Furthermore, Fast and Furious had to reinvent itself in order to keep things fresh, while some older franchises like Terminator cannot get out of the hole.
Another problem that may have contributed to the film’s disappointment is the reshoots that forced the film’s release date to be pushed back. Reshoots are a normal part of any blockbuster film. But because there are high demand actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy, it was hard to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
Originally, the film was supposed to hit theaters last November. But when those reshoots happened, it forced the film to be pushed back to a February release. This would have given the film the time it needed to breathe and have some legs before the incoming storm that was Avengers: Endgame. However, the film had to be pushed back to a later date once more because of an unlikely source: James Cameron.
Cameron is considered to be one of Fox’s most important filmmakers, mostly because of Avatar. Though he produced Alita: Battle Angel, he still has a lot of say in when it can and cannot be released. According to THR, one source said that Cameron thought that Alita, which was scheduled for a December release at the time, would have a horrible opening if it had to go up against Aquaman and Bumblebee, and just a couple of days after Mary Poppins Returns released on top of that.
That’s actually a fair point. Alita would have lost a lot more against the likes of those three December releases. So Alita was moved, and with its new date execs had to push Dark Phoenix to its final June date, something that Emma Watts, another studio exec, and producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker did not want to do. Why? Because they saw that the film was not designed to be a summer release. This Fox insider told THR, that the film was “designed to be an anti-Apocalypse” and to have “less spectacle and scale.” The Fox insider says that they felt it would be “big for off-season, too small for summer.”
It also doesn’t help that audiences had very little interest in seeing the film or they had already written it off. While X-Men and Fantastic Four are now a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks in part to the Disney and Fox merger, Marvel Studios will probably take some time to develop those characters so that they can properly fit into the universe that they have created and give fans something that they can be happy with.