'Dark Phoenix' Production Problems Come To Light As Latest 'X-Men' Film Flops At The Box Office

We've noticed an interesting trend in recent years. Anytime a big movie arrives with the stink of failure all over it, a trade publication will release a story with anonymous sources close to the production pointing fingers, trying to explain what went wrong. It happened with The Mummy reboot. It happened with the Hellboy reboot. And now it's happening with Dark Phoenix, the last (?) of Fox's X-Men films. Latest estimates suggest Dark Phoenix is going to lose $100 million at the box office, and no one wants to take the blame for that sort of fiasco. Sure enough, a new piece details some of the Dark Phoenix production problems, indicating that many parties are attempting damage control.

Why did Dark Phoenix tank at the box office over the weekend? I'm sure there are many reasons – for one thing, it looked bad. But a new story in Deadline highlights some of the problems the production faced – problems that likely contributed to such poor box office. It's already been widely reported that the film underwent lengthy reshoots – and that's not entirely out of the ordinary, especially on big blockbusters like this.

But those reshoots also kept screwing with the film's release date. And according to the Deadline story, the folks working on Dark Phoenix wanted to have the film in theaters earlier this year – in February. The plan was to head-off Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, which were sure to clean-up at the box office. But Fox Studios CEO Stacey Snider pushed for the film to open in the summer. Here's where things get murky. Snider's decision to have Dark Phoenix open in the summer came as a result of pressure from an unlikely source: James Cameron.

Cameron wields almighty power at Fox, thanks to Avatar. And the filmmaker really didn't want Alita: Battle Angel, a film he produced, to open during last Christmas, where it would be up against Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns. To make Cameron happy, Fox moved Alita to February 2019, which meant that Dark Phoenix would open in June.

The rest of the Deadline story has insiders laying some of the blame on marketing, as well as producers failing to realize Dark Phoenix was now opening against another franchise title – The Secret Life of Pets 2. There's also an interesting reveal that at one point, Fox was going to make two movies – Dark Phoenix Part 1 and 2. But they changed their minds, and that probably was for the best.

No matter what the reason, the result is clear: audiences had very little interest in Dark Phoenix. The X-Men franchise is now in the hands of Disney, thanks to the big Disney-Fox merger, which means the next time we see the characters they'll likely be rebooted with a whole new set of actors. But the Fox X-franchise isn't completely finished. There's always New Mutants to look forward to...if it ever gets released.