Some curious news broke recently regarding two of 20th Century Fox’s upcoming superhero films. X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the next installment in the main X-Men franchise, and the horror-tinged spinoff The New Mutants have both had their release dates delayed, moving Dark Phoenix out of 2018 entirely and pushing New Mutants all the way back to next summer. Dark Phoenix is being pushed out of its initial November 2018 debut to February 14, 2019, so just a couple of months, but New Mutants is being delayed from February 2019 all the way to August 2, 2019.
This was the second major delay for New Mutants, which was originally supposed to bow in April 2018, and the first delay for X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Studios shuffle release dates all the time, but these are two of Fox’s most highly anticipated films on the docket, so many are rightly wondering exactly why these release dates are being pushed. We did some digging and found some answers.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix marks the directorial debut of franchise writer/producer Simon Kinberg and brings back the star-studded cast of X-Men: Apocalypse, plus Jessica Chastain in a key role. Kinberg’s script convinced A-list talent like Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender to return even though their contracts for the franchise ran out with Apocalypse, but with A-list talent also comes high-class scheduling issues.
Sources with knowledge of the situation tell us that Dark Phoenix had a test screening to see what was working and what wasn’t, and like most big budget films it needs some additional photography—this is standard procedure for blockbusters nowadays. But given the in-demand nature of this A-list cast, getting all the necessary cast members assembled for reshoots is no easy task. The earliest availability for everyone to return was August or September of this year, which would leave just a couple of months to complete necessary visual effects for the new scenes. That wasn’t enough time, and so Fox decided to push Dark Phoenix’s release date to February to give everyone the time necessary to complete the needed additional photography and post-production on said sequences. So the release date delay for this film is basically just an issue of scheduling.
New Mutants is a different matter, however. When the film was initially delayed, it was reported that Fox wanted to do some reshoots to make the movie scarier, even going so far as to add a new character. That still holds true, and while we hear the film tested well, it’s not “scary” enough. Director Josh Boone delivered a cut of the film that he was happy with, but Fox wants this movie to stand out as tonally distinct the same way Logan and Deadpool did.
The reshoots that the studio wants are now even more significant. We’re hearing that at least 50% of the movie may be reshot, and they’re adding one or two new characters who will be present throughout the entirety of the film—this isn’t simply adding a cameo. Moreover, Boone has been having some creative differences with the studio over the requested changes to the movie, so the reasons for the New Mutants delay are more complex than why Dark Phoenix is being pushed.
Fox has gotten really ambitious with its Marvel Comics properties in the wake of Deadpool’s success, and one hopes that these changes being made to X-Men: Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants are in service of pushing boundaries. The studio garnered a lot of goodwill (and an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay) with Logan, and anticipation is mighty high for these two new titles. Here’s hoping all’s well that ends well.