dark phoenix production problems

Producer Lauren Shuler Donner spoke with /Film in anticipation of next week’s premiere of the final season of FX’s Legion. We’ll bring you the full Q&A with Shuler Donner, who produced all the X-Men films and was hands on through all of the films up to Days of Future Past, before the premiere.

During the interview, Shuler Donner offered some updates on the X-Men films and two stage adaptations of films she produced, Dave and The Secret Life of Bees. Here’s what she had to say about her projects outside of Legion.

Dark Phoenix is in Her Queue

Although it may be the final X-men film under Fox (depending whether Disney decides to release New Mutants theatrically or not), Dark Phoenix did not exactly end the series with a bang.  It opened to a series low and dropped significantly in its second week.

Shuler Donner has made it clear that she was not directly involved with the film, as she’s stepped back after Days of Future Past, but she still has high hopes for New Mutants. She did produce the previous version of the Dark Phoenix story in X-Men: The Last Stand, so we asked if she was happy with Simon Kinberg’s more faithful retelling of it.

“I have to be honest with you, I have not seen it yet,” Shuler Donner said. “I’m sure I will be, but I have not seen it.”

Producing Legion, two Broadway shows, and more films has legitimately kept Shuler Donner too busy to see the latest film, especially since Kinberg was the producer signing off on cuts. Since the Disney acquisition, Shuler Donner has deferred to Marvel’s Kevin Feige on any future X-Men news. Now she indicates she is unlikely to join him in future X-Men productions.

“X-Men now belongs to Disney and it’s in their capable hands,” she said. “That’s really up to Kevin Feige. He started out with me. I trust him. I think whatever he does, it won’t be right away. I think he’s already dealing with the plan that he set in motion for the other Marvel universe. But, I will not be involved most probably. I’ll be friend of the court.”

Dave is Now Shorter, But With More Songs

Shuler Donner is producing the stage adaptation of Dave, the 1993 comedy hit. In the film, a presidential impersonator (Kevin Kline) steps in when the real president (also Kline) dies, and ends up doing a better job running the country and being a husband to the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver).

In 1993, it was standard to imagine Presidents as corrupt politicians who didn’t have the people’s interests at heart. In 2019, we long for the days when those were our biggest worries about our leaders. While Dave does not become an anti-Trump show, Shuler Donner agreed its message is more relevant than ever.

“What I think is it’s especially more relevant, that it will be great to go into a theater and watch a President that cares about his people more than he cares about himself,” she said. “Dave is a wonderful fantasy about a president who really tries to care for the people and do a good job. I think now more than ever, we need to watch a show about kindness.”

She liked it when I said, “Make America Dave Again.” “Oh, I love that,” Shuler Donner beamed. “That’s a great slogan! I’m going to write that down. Thank you.”

Dave already did a test run in D.C. last summer. When it is performed again, it will be a bit tighter.

“We’ve done some changes since then,” Shuler Donner said. “We’ve made it much shorter, 15 minutes shorter. It showed us a lot. Now we are, like everybody else, standing in line for a theater for Broadway because shows like Wicked and Book of Mormon and Hamilton stay in those theaters. That means there’s less and less theaters for us newcomers.”

Secret Life of Bees Tickets Are on Sale Now

The Secret Life of Bees is a 2008 movie written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, adapted from the Sue Monk Kidd novel. Dakota Fanning starred as a runaway girl in 1964 who finds the answers she’s looking for with a trio of beekeeping sisters (played by Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okenedo).

Like Dave, Bees is also doing a trial theatrical run, which Shuler Donner says is standard for the process.

“Usually what you do if you’re going to produce a musical that is bound for Broadway, that you want to be bound for Broadway, you need to get it up on its feet,” she said. “So you’ve got your team, you’ve written the book, your music and your lyrics, you have a reading but those are people standing around reading and singing. You need to get it on its feet, see it move, see the actors move, see how the choreography works, if it’s too long, if you need this song or if you need another song. Everybody does usually a regional run.”

The Secret Life of Bees is currently playing at the Atlantic Theater Company in Chelsea so you can be among the first to see it.

“The Band’s Visit which won the Tony last year, they started out there,” Shuler Donners said. “A lot of shows start out there. Now we get to watch it with an audience, get to see what works, what doesn’t work and then eventually it will go to Broadway. It’ll get at heater and go to Broadway also.”

Legion returns Monday, June 24 and look for our interview with Lauren Shuler Donner before then.

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