X-Men: Dark Phoenix opened last week and it did not do well. How badly did it do? Well, let’s just say that an X-Men movie making $33 million domestically on its opening weekend is the sort of failure that people will end up writing Vanity Fair oral histories about in five years time. For Fox, it would be a career ender for many an executive if Disney hadn’t already signed on the dotted line to acquire them. This was always a problem for Disney rather than one of the great benefits of the $71.3 billion deal. Sure, they wanted the X-Men, they just didn’t want to have to deal with the crappy movies that were unreleased once the deal went through. But even if the House of Mouse hadn’t stepped in with Marvel stars in their eyes, the X-Men franchise was already a sinking ship mired in controversy, middling reviews, dwindling audience interest and one director who they couldn’t seem to work up the energy to fire.
Now, less than a week since its dire release, The Hollywood Reporter already have plenty of sources ready to spill on what a mess this whole affair was. According to the piece, Dark Phoenix was intended to be ‘a course corrective’ after X-Men: Apocalypse, which grossed around $200 million less than its predecessor, Days of Future Past. Insiders claim that the studio heads, Stacey Snider and Emma Watts, and producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker, did not learn the right lessons from the disappointing box office numbers, saying, ‘There was a misguided feeling that [Apocalypse] was an anomaly, that we just got it wrong. We were wrong.’
Rather than rebooting the franchise or taking it in a fresher direction, they chose to tell the Dark Phoenix story again, as they had already done in 2006 with X-Men: The Last Stand, and that’s generally considered the nadir of the franchise. So of course they asked the guy who co-wrote it to direct Dark Phoenix. Simon Kinberg seems popular with the folks at Fox and people have already talked about how much less chaotic production with him was over other directors. Indeed, it turned out that Kinberg had stepped into the director role on both Days of Future Past and Apocalypse, with him taking over a lot on the latter because, shock of all shocks, Bryan Singer wouldn’t turn up on set. Gee! Who saw that coming?!
And then there were reshoot problems. Every major franchise blockbuster does reshoots nowadays, but when your movie is full of major stars with busy schedules, getting them done can be tough, and that seems to have been the case with Dark Phoenix. The release date was pushed back twice, with the first original date of February 2019 changed because, according to insiders, James Cameron didn’t want Alita: Battle Angel to suffer at the box office.
Generally speaking, Dark Phoenix seemed kind of doomed from the start. It was the fourth film in a new leg of a franchise that audiences were losing interest in, half the actors looked bored out of their skulls, they just weren’t as good as their competition, and for a lot of Marvel fans, it all seemed sort of pointless given how much the MCU was knocking it out of the park on a much grander scale. Disney didn’t want to have to deal with this thing much anyway, so it’s no loss for them.
But seriously, YOU F*CKERS STILL KEPT HIRING ACCUSED RAPIST BRYAN SINGER, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A FINANCIAL LIABILITY WHO NEVER TURNED UP TO DO HIS DAMN JOB?! NO SYMPATHY FOR YOU. F*CKING SERIOUSLY?!
Header Image Source: Getty Images.