‘Logan’ Drew Concerns at Fox Over Dark Tone, Says Studio Chief

Courtesy of Fox

A tonal shift in “Logan,” the final film in the “Wolverine” franchise, drew concerns internally that it would be too dark, according to Twentieth Century Fox Film chairman Stacey Snider.

“Inside, there was real consternation about the intensity of the tone of the film,” she said in a Q&A at the Recode Media conference Tuesday in Laguna Niguel, Calif.. “It’s more of an elegy about life and death. The paradigm for it was a Western, and my colleagues were up in arms. It’s not a wise-cracking cigar-chomping mutton-sporting Wolverine, and the debate internally became, isn’t that freakin’ boring? Isn’t it exciting to imagine Wolverine as a real guy and he’s world-weary and he doesn’t want to fight anymore until a little girl needs him?”

“Logan” is scheduled for release on March 3 with Hugh Jackman reprising his title role. The movie’s marketing machinery kicked into overdrive with a spot in the Super Bowl that kicked up a fresh wave of social-media chatter about the raw nature of the movie compared with its predecessors in the successful Fox franchise.

Snider also spoke out on behalf of the Fox Searchlight business, countering the conventional wisdom that the encroachment of Netflix and Amazon as buyers in the festival circuit has challenged consumers.

“What Amazon did with ‘Manchester By the Sea’ is remarkable,” she said. “But I was with my colleagues at Sundance this year also and they were able to secure two hotly pursued projects, ‘Step’ and ‘Patty Cake$’ for less money than the competition was offering because when it comes to those films and curated, hand-carried approach to market, that comes with years and years of experience. “It’s not to say it can’t be modeled but the people who have been doing it with such incredible success with ’12 Year a Slave,’ ‘Wild’ and ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ speak an artistic language that is important to speak.”

In addition, Snider spoke out strongly in support of the exhibition business, which she sees as the most important link in the distribution chain, albeit one that needs to be balanced with the growing demand for some kind of premium VOD release in homes.

“If the supposition is that the movie business corners whatever market we have in creating huge global cinematic experiences, then then the last thing we want to do is commoditize it and make it feel interchangeable with the home entertainment experience,” she warned.

Snider went so far as to suggest her studio was even more vulnerable than some of her rivals to a weakened exhibition business.

“When I think about how Fox is situated compared to Warner Bros. or Comcast or Disney, we’re more dependent on exhibitors than any of the other companies,” she said. “It really does genuinely matter to us.”

But she stopped well short of suggesting that some kind of alteration in film distribution was inevitable. “It’s not about smashing the window, its about opening it up a little,” she said. “I don’t think its controversial to say for a business not to be able to sell what it makes for periods of time is anachronistic.”

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  1. Michael J W says:

    I find all of this – well – unintelligible and . I am 60 now – career military veteran (3rd generation) and former US Navy fighter pilot (F-14 and F/A-18) – through both 80s Soviet Union and 90s Desert Storm (the REAL world). I grew up with the Marvel Universe – including the ORIGINAL X-Men. I was inspired, enthusiastic and embraced these characters. Today – it is all about profanity, darkness of tone and a complete lack of inspiration of heroism. I know whereof I speak – and trust me, I know TRUE darkness. Comics are an escape – period. It is sad and pathetic when I cannot have my 7 y.o. son watch the movies based on the comics I grew up with. This of you that have never served, never truly risked your lives and ever been to those dark places, whose sole presence is predicated on a prolonged adolescence into your 20s, 30s, ?… You need to get a reality check. Superheroes are just that – beyond real heroes – those which we can aspire to be, but do not exist. It saddens me to see movies where a 7 year old boy – like myself not so long ago – cannot even watch their heroes on the screen due to language, extreme gore and issues very few actually have to deal with – rather than someone to emulate in a positive manner. Go ahead ‘trolls’ … bring it on. I will drop you like a bag of dirt. You hide behind your screens as the slugs you are.

    • tresa4love says:

      I greatly respect and appreciate your service and your background. That said, with all due respect, it is a bit self-centered to implicitly suggest all films should cater to your wants. Many people do want to see dark films and there is nothing wrong with that at all. By your logic, movies like Schindler’s List should have never gotten made because Jews who suffered through the Holocaust and survived would prefer an escape from that reality. Just watch a different movie. It’s not that hard of a choice to make and there is no need to be sad about dark movies being made because there are plenty of other movies that will cater towards your wants and it is a bit of an insult to the millions of others who are happy and excited for this film because of the very dark, gritty western vibe. The Wolverine comic books this movie is inspired by are extremely dark in their own right. Also, perhaps you should watch the film before implying this film has “complete lack of inspiration of heroism” like other movies you have in mind. This story’s core is a deep relationship about a physically and emotionally torn man taking care of an ailing man who is his father figure while also trying to be a father-like figure to a young girl who comes into his life. The movie is not merely dark for the sake of being dark. It is absolutely okay for a director and actor to decide to make an adult movie for an adult audience who has been asking for this type of Wolverine film for years. When your seven-year-old son grows up, he can see it, and he’ll be just fine.

      • tresa4love says:

        By the way, not every person with your background even shares your opinion and this I know for a fact. Also, Wolverine is not really a superhero. He is more of an anti-hero and he is a very dark character. The complaint people had was that the previous portrayals of Wolverine were not dark enough to fit with the comic books.

  2. Deez Nutz says:

    Fox better not fuck this up, I’ve been waiting for a wolverine character such as this. Him being my favorite X-Men I’ve been VERY disappointed in past portrayals of him. I’m excited about this movie!!

  3. Daniel McCann says:

    Anything is going to be better than that crap they tried to pull off in Wolverine Origins. if dark and gritty is boring to the people running the show, then maybe they shouldn’t be running it.

  4. mdryle says:

    Darker than the big hit almost all who seen it said it’s wicked, John Wick Chapter 2??? or are you trying to sell it as a dark movie LOL

  5. Jim says:

    The people running these studios are grossly out of touch with the average moviegoer.

    • Damon Tammas says:

      It’s funny, they had immediately tried to rewrite the whole thing for him as a ‘suggestion’. Ridiculous. And clearly after a flop year they should shake up some of the ‘suits’ running things.

  6. Jpe says:

    Wish Warner Bros. would learn from Fox.

  7. Spider says:

    This looks like the Wolverine flick I’ve been waiting to see. Ballsy move for Fox to go with this, especially after the massive success of “Deadpool”.

  8. Tbone says:

    how dumb are these people? Audiences want dark tones and gritty characters

    • Trisha says:

      Dark tones, gritty logical characters that still feel human. Piggybacking on an earlier comment about John Wick, see him as a grieving widow former hitman who bleeds, has cuts and limps, the world may be out to get him but he’s still the same. Focus on character, have someone that’s relatable (or at the very least charismatic) and a decent enough story you can do mostly anything.

      Even the MCU heroes bleed.

  9. Monaco says:

    I am glad FOX eventually saw the light…and will be giving fans the kind of movie that will be the appropriate sendoff for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine! The marketing is also very refreshing and original. Congrats to Snider for supporting this kind of artistic direction! We are ready to support the vision!

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