‘Dark Phoenix’ did not open well. At a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a $33 million in its opening domestic box-office, the film is a pretty big failure, which is a sad state of affairs for the franchise that launched the super-hero era we are currently in. Sadly, the higher-ups at FOX should have seen this coming, and taken steps to prevent another debacle, especially since the ‘X-Men’ film right before this one showed clear signs that the franchise was being mishandled, and needed course correction.
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According to one FOX exec speaking to the Hollywood Reporter about the thoughts following the missteps of ‘Apocalypse,’ the higher ups felt the franchise had failed in ‘Apocalypse‘ due to too many big explosions and a scale too large for the film, not taking into account the franchise fatigue that was really plaguing the ‘X-Men’ films (or the lack of quality of that entry).
“There was a misguided feeling that [Apocalypse] was an anomaly, that we just got it wrong…We were wrong.”
As for promoting the film? Another FOX exec says that due to the film’s premiere date being pushed back (due to demands from James Cameron for a better slot for ‘Alita: Battle Angel’) and the merger with Disney, the film did not get the exposure it should have, and was marketed as a big summer tent pole movie when it was really meant to be a November or February release, usually reserved for smaller films not all about the spectacle. That same exec went on to say:
“The campaign was muddled. Was this the final X-Men movie? Was it about a character going back? This movie just got lost.”
From the mishandling of the release date, poor marketing and promotion, even to the decision to allow director/writer Simon Kinberg to move ahead with a story that had already been done before (and co-written by Kinberg I might add) with the ‘X-Men’ film fans and critics had arguably disliked the most (‘The Last Stand’), insiders were scratching their heads at who had allowed ‘Dark Phoenix’ to happen, and who should get the blame. According to yet another FOX exec:
“If the merger didn’t happen, some of these people would be worried about their jobs. If the merger didn’t happen, people would be clamoring for Fox to do what Sony did with Spider-Man and ask for Marvel’s help.”
Of course, as sad as it is to see the ‘X-Men’ main franchise go out in such a way, there are a few things to keep in mind here. First of all, this is NOT the final FOX ‘X-Men’ film. The ‘New Mutants‘ film will get that honor, and with that film’s release already many times delayed, as well as numerous sources claiming it too is a mess of a movie, that may not be the best way for the franchise to go out either. There’s also a chance bits and pieces of this franchise MAY find there way over to the MCU now that Disney and FOX have merged. The MCU has hinted at a multi-verse in the ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ trailer, and with the Quicksilver of the MCU dead (thanks to ‘Age of Ultron‘), I could see a possibility of them bringing over the FOX Quicksilver to the main MCU due to the popularity of that character. And of course, we know there has long been talks and rumors about Deadpool joining the MCU. Bare minimum, eventually the MCU will launch their own ‘X-Men,’ and I would bet money that they will at least pay homage to the FOX franchise with some visual imagery or gags.
What did you think of ‘Dark Phoenix?’ Are we giving it too hard of a time? Or do you think the ‘X-Men’ franchise deserved better for their send-off? Sound off in the comments below!