20th Century Fox finally unveiled the new X-Men film Dark Phoenix last week by releasing the film’s first trailer, which teased a dramatic change of pace for the franchise. Indeed, Dark Phoenix is a shift in a lot of ways. Bryan Singer returned to spearhead X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, but after the 80s-set Apocalypse, longtime X-Men writer and producer Simon Kinberg took it upon himself to craft a very different kind of X-Men film, one that would finally adapt the fan-favorite Dark Phoenix storyline the right way. Moreover, Kinberg opted to make the film his directorial debut.
Kinberg’s script was strong enough to woo back the entire main cast, including Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence, and recently Collider’s own Steve Weintraub got to sit down with Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker for an exclusive interview about the film while they’re hard at work editing the movie. During the course of their conversation, Kinberg touched on the reshoots that recently took place for Dark Phoenix, and the abrupt release date change that was announced one day after the trailer was unveiled. Indeed, Dark Phoenix was originally set to hit theaters next February, but Fox instead decided to push the film to June 2019 as part of a series of release date shuffles for various films (Dark Phoenix ended up taking over Gambit’s old release date, as that film was moved to 2020).
When touching on the reshoots, Kinberg began by discussing how additional photography has become the norm in blockbuster filmmaking—to the point that Marvel Studios builds it into their budget:
“I think any movie that has scale and, frankly, the wherewithal financially to do it does it. One of the many things that Marvel Studios does so brilliantly is they build into their budgets a reshoot period because the same way that writing a screenplay is an iterative process where you’re writing draft after draft, it makes sense—the way Marvel does it, the way Pixar does it—that making the movie is an iterative process as well, so you’re learning as you’re making the film, you’re learning as you’re editing the film what it needs.”
Kinberg says the first unit photography reshoots lasted for two and a half weeks, which is roughly the same amount of time for the average Marvel Studios movie. In terms of what, specifically, the Dark Phoenix reshoots needed to address, Kinberg says they were mostly focused on punching up the third act:
“Mostly we focused on the third act, both emotionally and in terms of the physical scale and the action of the third act that we adjusted. And then there were certain things in the first two acts of the movie—very few things, but to set up those changes in the third act we had to adjust some things in the first two acts so that that all was fluid and felt consistent.”
As for that release date shift, Kinberg says the change was a result of a number of factors ranging from more time needed for visual effects to potentially securing a release date in China:
“Some of the trailers had ‘Coming Soon’ on them and some of them said ‘February 14th’. It was a date, February 14th, that we initially liked for the movie but when we realized that we weren’t gonna have the visual effects ready to release it globally the way we wanted to, and the Gambit date opened up because it wasn’t gonna be ready for that June 7th date. We looked at that date versus the February 14th date, the studio did and we did, we felt like that June date was a bigger opportunity for us globally. More screens, more IMAX screens, a better chance to play in China where these movies have a massive following. What we found when we released the trailer was that 44, 45 million views of the trailer were in China alone… Specific for us, it is an opportunity to be a bigger movie day-and-date globally.”
That said, Kinberg admits the trailer probably should not have gone out with the February release date on it, but at the time the release date change had not been made official:
“In terms of the trailer release, it certainly probably shouldn’t have said 2/14 on it, but the audience—and certainly I know this because I live online as much as anybody—people wanted to see something from the movie, and it was time to share something from the movie. So I would’ve still released a teaser when we released it, I just would’ve put ‘Coming Soon’ on the end of it or I would’ve put ‘June 7th’, though we hadn’t made that decision [at the time].”