Released in 2019, “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” by Simon Kinberg lands on the Disney+ platform. Between production problems and complicated results at the box office, the reputation of the blockbuster is not as glorious as the previous opuses.
The X-Men saga is one of the most lucrative franchises in American cinema. His first partdirected by Bryan Singer and released in 2000, even signed the beginnings of a super-heroic madness that was to fall on the Hollywood industry a few years later.
Twenty years have passed and comic book characters are more popular than ever. The mutants are still around, but at what cost? In June 2019, a new opus is released in cinemas. Third prequel sequel X-Men: The Beginning, dark phoenix is on a mission to restore the image of Professor Xavier’s students after the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse.
The film is directed by Simon Kinberg. This renowned producer knows the universe of the franchise well. In 2006, he co-signed the screenplay for X-Men: The Last Stand – considered one of the worst episodes of the saga. With dark phoenix, he directed his first feature film. The blockbuster was released on June 5 in France – June 7 in the United States – and the result was not long in coming: the failure was total, both critically and commercially.
Long before arriving in cinemas, the trajectory of the film is heckled. During filming, the screenplay – written by Simon Kinberg himself – underwent numerous modifications. In a meeting with ScreenRant, the actresses Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain admit that a script page could change overnight. “We could have a conversation with real ideas and the next morning Simon would come in saying, ‘Hey, I’ve written a few pages that might be interesting for the direction we’d like to take’.”
As with many blockbusters, the film goes through reshoots – a term that refers to the need to reshoot or add scenes during post-production. So far, nothing dramatic. But in the case of dark phoenix, this shooting is particularly long – more than two weeks. Above all, the busy schedule of the main actors considerably delays the production. If the official filming extends from June to October 2017, the reshoots only take place in October 2018.
First dated for November 2018, the film has been postponed twice, for February 2019 and for June 2019 – at the request of James Cameron who wishes to offer better visibility to his production, Alita: Battle Angel. Once in the room, the press is unanimous: the magazine RollingStone describes it as “theWorst X-Men movie in the franchise”, while the newspaper The Guardian writing : “The goal of a phoenix is to get out of the flames, flames in which the saga is engulfed with this film.”
At the box office, dark phoenix achieves the worst start with $30 million for its first weekend. This represents one third of the figures of X-Men: Days of Future Past, released in 2014, for the same period. Just days after release, director Simon Kinberg admits the film’s failure to the media KCRW : “It clearly failed to connect with audiences who didn’t see it, and it didn’t quite connect with those who did. So it’s my fault.”
The saga continues the following year with The New Mutants, a project centered on new characters and in a very different style. Bad luck, this last attempt receives an even colder reception after a stormy production. It remains to be seen when and how the X-Men will rise from the ashes.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is available on Disney+.