Why X-Men: Dark Phoenix Failed

A critical mauling and $100m lost? Ouch.

Dark Phoenix RT

The X-Men movie franchise has lost its way a few times since Bryan Singer's X-Men gave birth to it back in 2000. In fact, when you look back, it's quite remarkable that the series managed to recover from The Last Stand, X-Men: Origins and the most recent disappointment of Apocalypse, which dribbled its way to a 47% Rotten Tomatoes score and was considered an embarrassment.

But then, you can take those losses if your franchise also has high-points as high as Logan, X-2 and Deadpool 2. It's all just swings and roundabouts and usually, if something goes wrong, we get something great to balance it. The problem for Dark Phoenix, which currently sits on just 23% on Rotten Tomatoes and is headed towards a deeply uninspiring box office return. In fact, it's not only scored the worst debut of the 2019 summer movie season, it's also managed to earn the worst ever opening for any X-Men movie.

This movie was supposed to be the start of a new trilogy and would be followed by something new and different in the shape of New Mutants, but then everything changed and Dark Phoenix has ended up being something of a disaster.

So, how did it all go so terribly wrong?

7. The Production Tale Over-Shadowed The Release

Dark Phoenix Sophie Turner

Without getting too deep into what actually happened with all of the reshoots (because that's coming up very soon in this exploration), any film release conversation that is so heavily defined by talk of production problems and which very visibly gets shunted around the release calendar is starting from a poisoned position.

You have to take into account what that looks like to an audience demographic made up of people who have now been bred to expect "reshoots" to be indicative of failure even before release. After all, the sensational take on reshooting is that it's a lack of faith from the people who MADE the thing and that's very much what audiences are now fed.

To a certain extent, Fox's marketing campaign was always going to be overshadowed by the decision to move the movie several times, by the extensive, expensive reshoots and by talk of a "difficult" test screening period. Fox failed to manage what came out and how it was transmitted and it killed the film on arrival.


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