20th Century Fox announced some release date shuffles last night, and they mean major delays for those looking forward to the studio’s upcoming superhero movies. X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the next film in the proper X-Men series, but Fox has decided to move the film off of its scheduled November 2, 2018 release date and push it into 2019, where it will now open on February 14, 2019. If you’re thinking, “Hey, that’s around the same time The New Mutants comes out,” you’re both right and wrong. As a result of the Dark Phoenix push, director Josh Boone’s horror-centric X-Men spinoff has now been pushed all the way to August 2, 2019. That’s over a year after the film’s original release date, which was April 13, 2018.
Dark Phoenix is poised to mark a change of sorts for the X-Men franchise, as series writer/producer Simon Kinberg writes and directs the dramatic follow-up to X-Men: Apocalypse. The film adapts the Dark Phoenix comics arc and brings Jessica Chastain into the fold as Lilandra, and while many were looking forward to seeing how different Kinberg’s take on the franchise might be, we’ll all have to wait a little longer.
That February date proved successful for Deadpool and this year’s Black Panther so it’s not as if Dark Phoenix is getting dumped. There’s currently only one release set for that Friday, February 15th, the Paramount comedy Instant Family, but Sony has its own superhero movie Silver and Black slated for February 8th, which is when The LEGO Movie Sequel is also scheduled for release. I expect one or both of those to move.
As for The New Mutants, the film was intended to be a haunted house-style take on the X-Men franchise, offering a tonal departure in the vein of Logan and Deadpool, but Fox pulled the film from its intended April 2018 release so they could do some more reshoots and further tweak the tone. Now it’s moving far away from Dark Phoenix to give that movie some breathing room, but if the film is indeed scary, August seems a better fit than February. Currently Dora the Explorer and an untitled Warner Bros. Event Film are scheduled for release the same day, August 2nd, but Quentin Tarantino’s new film and the Artemis Fowl movie arrive in theaters the following week.
These aren’t the only release dates Fox is shifting. The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is now taking over Dark Phoenix’s old date, November 2nd, moving up from its intended December 25th date. Bryan Singer directed the Rami Malek-fronted film, but he was fired during production for failing to show up for work. Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle) came in to take over, and apparently the film has been testing really well, so despite production troubles this one may come out OK.
Additionally, Fox has pulled the adaptation of Don Winslow’s novel The Force off the release schedule, as it was originally set to open on March 1, 2019. James Mangold has been eyeing the director’s chair on that one but things are far from finalized (they recently brought on Scott Frank to do a rewrite), so there was no way the film could come together in time. It may yet still happen, but just not in time for Spring 2019.