Over the course of eleven movies, Fox’s X-Men series has become the eighth highest grossing movie franchise of all time, putting it ahead of the DCEU and the Fast and Furious series, with over $5.7 billion in the bank since 2000. Some movies have been great (Logan, Deadpool), others not so much (X-Men: The Last Stand, anyone?) Now, a cinematic era has come to an end as X-Men: Dark Phoenix signals the finale of Fox’s tenure with the series. Well, we still have The New Mutants on the horizon but with the way they keep pushing that release date back, don’t hold your breath. Disney own the franchise now and will eventually fold the characters, as well as Deadpool and the Fantastic Four, into their ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That leaves Dark Phoenix in a weird spot. It’s not exactly highly anticipated, it’s had its release date moved back twice, and frankly, it looks kind of pants. The directorial debut of screenwriter Simon Kinberg, the film sees many of the series’ big names returning but is mostly centered on Sophie Turner as Jean Grey and Hollywood’s latest turn at trying to make the legendary Dark Phoenix arc of the comics happen on the big screen. The budget is reportedly around $200 million but is probably higher due to chaotic reshoots. Apparently the entire ending was reshot to avoid comparisons with another big superhero movie.
But it turns out that messy and chaotic shoots are kind of par for the course for the X-Men series. Jennifer Lawrence, who has never looked thrilled to be part of this series, told Entertainment Weekly of the Dark Phoenix shoot, ‘It was unrecognizable. Everything was on time. Everything was organised. These movies have always been fun amidst chaos, and now they were fun with no chaos.’ Hutch Parker, producer on all these films since X-Men: Days of Future Past, noted that Kinberg’s strength was in creating ‘a really stable and nurturing environment […] You don’t necessarily solve problems more quickly if you’re yelling and screaming.’
Gee, I wonder who he’s talking about.
Kinberg noted how earlier films with Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer were ‘pretty chaotic’ shoots, but didn’t elaborate much beyond that. But of course we have to talk about Singer, the accused sexual predator who also has a long history of bad behaviour on set (when he bothers to turn up). Sophie Turner had already described her time with Singer on X-Men: Apocalypse as ‘unpleasant’. The Hollywood Reporter had written about Singer being ‘often unprepared and late to set’ for Apocalypse and how ‘if challenged about his behavior, he sometimes cried.’ And that doesn’t even get into the mess of making Bohemian Rhapsody or throwing things at Rami Malek or being sued for allegedly filming underage boys naked in Apt Pupil or shooting on X-Men 2 being delayed because of a ‘personal argument’ he had with the executive producer or Superman Returns going wildly over schedule and over budget because Singer was a nightmare who never appeared on set and seemed ‘heavily medicated’.
Or, you know, two solid decades of accusations of sexual assault of men and underage boys.
Because here’s the thing: Bryan Singer is a monstrous liability who Fox gave work to over and over again because regardless of the end result or the people who got hurt or the power their support gave to a man accused of truly abhorrent crimes, none of it mattered as long as those X-Men films made money. So even now, when everyone knows what Singer has been accused of, Kinberg still brags that ‘we ended up with good films’ in spite of Singer’s ‘chaos’. Because what’s a little sexual assault allegations between colleagues?
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is currently projected to do worse business at the box office than The Secret Life of Pets 2.
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