×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

After ‘Dark Phoenix’ Bombs, Where Does ‘X-Men’ Go From Here?

When Disney announced its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox, X-Men was among the film properties that had executives at the Magic Kingdom frothing at the mouth. The historic merger meant that the Fox-owned band of mutant superheroes could reunite with its comic-book brethren in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the kind of super team-up that had the potential to be one of the most lucrative crossovers of all time — a rare chance to see Cyclops and Professor X aligned with Spider-Man and Black Panther.

After “Dark Phoenix” became the first “X-Men” entry to flop spectacularly at the box office, the future of the 20-year-old film franchise looks murkier. The superhero adventure misfired with a disastrous $33 million in North America, by far the worst opening for an “X-Men” title. Compounding matters, it cost a hefty $200 million to produce. That doesn’t even take into account the hundreds of millions in global marketing and distribution fees it incurred. “Dark Phoenix” had a slightly stronger start overseas, but even so, it would take a miracle for it to turn a profit. As it stands, box office watchers think that the film could lose $100 million.

“Dark Phoenix” is intended to mark a culmination of sorts for the “X-Men” saga (at least this iteration of the mutant heroes). Nobody expects one of the biggest film franchises to leave the big-screen for good. However, those dismal ticket sales signal that Disney may need to give the X-Men a break while they recover from a crippling case of franchise fatigue.

In fairness to Disney, the studio inherited “Dark Phoenix,” a movie that had suffered through an arduous journey to the screen. In retrospect, the bad buzz has been building for some time. In a signal of the potential trouble and lack of confidence in the movie, Fox moved the release date several times though filming was completed two years ago.

Executives at the Buena Vista company certainly know a thing or two about big-budget superhero tentpoles, but Disney still has its work cut out acquainting itself with its recently added film franchises. Moreover, X-Men’s most successful character Deadpool isn’t the kind of family friendly fare Disney is used to churning out. Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger already promised Ryan Reynolds’ wildly popular hero will have many more lives under the Disney umbrella, but outside of the Merc with a Mouth, the studio will essentially be starting from scratch. When the studio adjusted its film slate post-merger, “The New Mutants” starring Maisie Williams was pushed back until 2020. Another “X-Men” title, “Gambit” with Channing Tatum, was removed from the schedule entirely.

“It’s a really important franchise,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore. “We’ve seen a lot of franchise fatigue lately, and this is no different. But giving up on a series because one movie underperforms is not the way to go, and not the route Disney will take.”

They should be be in good hands under the leadership of Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios. Over the past decade, Disney’s comic-book empire has developed a reputation for churning out superhero fare that’s beloved by fans. They also have a tendency to make a pretty penny at the box office. Though “Dark Phoenix” was plagued by harsh reviews, a number of “X-Men” entries have also enjoyed critical raves and even an Oscar nomination in the case of “Logan.” Reviews, at least in the superhero genre, aren’t a factor that always translate into poor ticket sales. But in the case of “Dark Phoenix,” comic-book buffs seemed equally disappointed, giving it a mediocre B-CinemaScore. When looking at the future of X-Men, it can’t hurt to take a page from Feige’s playbook and lean into the fandom roots.

“They are not going to get rid of these characters,” Dergarabedian said. “The box office performance is not a mandate against X-Men.”

The X-Men may not have to hang up their suits for good, but expect Disney to hold off on new mutant adventures for the foreseeable future. Marvel is busy creating sequels to hit films such as “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange,” while launching fresh franchises based around characters like “The Eternals.” Figuring out what to do with the X-Men, a super-group that’s lost its luster, is a challenge that will have to wait for another day.

More Film

  • Méndez Esparza, Fernando Franco, Villaronga Projects

    Projects By Mendez Esparza, Fernando Franco and Villaronga at Small Is Biutiful

    Antonio Méndez Esparza’s “Que nadie duerma,” Fernando Franco’s “La consagración de la primavera” and Agustí Villaronga’s “3.000 obstáculos” figure among the seven projects to be pitched at Paris’ Small Is Biutiful forum. The closing event for the alternative Spanish film festival Dífferent 12!, Small Is Biutiful takes place June 26, bringing together French distributors and [...]

  • Judi Dench

    Judi Dench Says Works by Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey Should Be Respected

    Veteran British star Judi Dench has said that the work produced by Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey should be separated from the offenses they are alleged to have committed. Both Weinstein and Spacey face charges of sexual assault in the U.S., which they deny, and have been investigated in other jurisdictions as well, including Britain. [...]

  • Karlovy Vary Honorees

    Karlovy Vary Fetes Julianne Moore, Patricia Clarkson, Vladimir Smutny

    The Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival Honorees JULIANNE MOORE, Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema An actress, author and activist, Moore has long earned accolades on her diverse career path. Related 'Toy Story 4': 5 Takeaways From Opening Weekend Why 'Toy Story 4' Character Forky Wasn't Named Sporky The North Carolina native [...]

  • CLOSE QUARTERS – In Disney and

    Korea Box Office: ‘Toy Story 4,' ‘Aladdin’ Share Weekend

    Two Disney releases, “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” ruled the weekend box office in Korea. Opening on Thursday, “Toy Story 4” earned $8.54 million from 1.12 million admissions over its four opening days. The animated family adventure film accounted for 32% of the country’s total weekend box office. May release “Aladdin” slipped to second from [...]

  • Lendita Zeqiraj Agas House Movie

    Karlovy Vary Embraces New Voices From the East

    When Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s East of the West competition opened to submissions from the Middle East two years ago, festival artistic director Karel Och noted it was “about time to abandon the political definition of the ‘East of the West’ countries,” long determined by the geographical boundaries hemming in the former Soviet bloc. Though [...]

  • Let There Be Light Movie Marko

    Tough Competition in Spa Town Festival

    When the curtain rises June 28 on the 54th edition of the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, there will be a conspicuous absence among the 12 titles selected for the main competition: Czech directors. It’s just the second time this decade that the host country has failed to field a single entry in competition, a [...]

  • Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp Join Edgar

    Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp Join Edgar Wright’s ‘Last Night in Soho’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho” has rounded out its cast, with veteran actors Diana Rigg and Terence Stamp among the stars signing on for the latest movie from the “Baby Driver” director. Stamp can currently be seen in Netflix hit “Murder Mystery” with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Rigg’s recent roles include Olenna Tyrell [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content