“We Were Wrong”: Behind Fox’s ‘Dark Phoenix’ Debacle

"We Were Wrong": Behind Fox's 'Dark Phoenix' Debacle 4

“We Were Wrong”: Behind Fox’s ‘Dark Phoenix’ Debacle




  1. This seems like the takeaways from the business end where you can’t control the quality of your movie beyond the vaguest sense of “more or less spectacle”.

    It talks about not releasing at the right time for the amount of spectacle, franchise fatigue (so favoring reboots), and release date politics.

    It doesn’t talk about why the movie is bad, rather why a bad movie was poorly managed on the business side, so that it flopped when so many bad movies tend to do ok.

  2. > Part of the reasoning was that Dark Phoenix was not designed to be a summer movie, says the Fox insider. In some ways, it was designed to be an anti-Apocalypse, to have less spectacle and scale. Big for off-season, too small for summer, says this person.

    How do you spend 200 million on a movie that was designed to be an “anti-Apocalypse” when Apocalypse cost 178 million to make?

  3. >”There was a misguided feeling that [Apocalypse] was an anomaly, that we just got it wrong,” says one Fox insider familiar with those meetings. “We were wrong.”

    I think that’s the wrong takeaway again. The problem with Apocalypse had to do with the story telling and the characters. What made First Class and DOFP work was they were relatively simple and down to earth stories. Guy wants to start a war so that mutants can take over. Or go back in time to stop a specific event from happening.

    Apocalypse was both convoluted and repetitive. Overpowered villain wants to wipe out the earth for reasons. It could have worked if they had done more to tease towards the character or set them up in previous movies but it was just too much for one film to carry successfully.

    And it seems that they did the same thing with Dark Phoenix changing it from 2 movies to 1 a few weeks before production started.

  4. > With the movie’s dismal opening, its low critics’ score (22 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and a B- Cinemascore with audiences signaling an outright rejection, the finger-pointing began in earnest. Lauren Shuler Donner, who has been a producer on the franchise since the first movie, tweeted, then deleted, “Save your condolences. I had zero, nothing to do with Dark Phoenix. Or Apocalypse, or New Mutants.”

    > Fox insiders say this is true, noting that **Donner additionally did not have anything to do with the successful Logan and Deadpool and Deadpool 2, either, on which she received producer credit, thanks to generous contract terms**. Donner, according to Fox insiders, has not been involved with the X-movies since leaving under a cloud of “creative differences” during the making of Future Past.

    Jesus Christ

  5. I love how the studio is like… ¯_(ツ)_/¯ too many explosions audience fatigue hurf durf ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    Maybe it’s because the script was shit.

  6. How firms are still trying to fall back on “audience fatigue” as their excuse for underperforming films is mind-boggling. We just saw Avengers challenge the box office crown and make billions of dollars. Fast & Furious movies come out like clockwork and rake in piles of cash.

    You start making poor movies and audiences stop showing up. Apocalypse was an utter failure and Dark Phoenix drove the final nail into the coffin. Have a vision, tell a good story, and profit. Blaming audience fatigue, release dates, and others is just hand waving around the core problems.

  7. This film, and Apocalypse, didn’t fail because of “franchise fatigue” or bad marketing they failed because they’re bad movies. Full stop.

    How far up their own are these people’s heads

  8. Not once in the article does it mention anything about the writing for all these failed X-men movies being dogshit. They’ll fucking talk about the angle of the sun relative to mercury being wrong before they consider the simplest fucking thing: just write a good screenplay. Good god. And I know so many good writers working at coffee shops and shit. Hollywood is funny.

  9. Everyone always acts as if there’s some juicy BTS tale whenever these “nerdy” films go wrong but between this and the Deadline write up on the movie one thing is becoming more and more clear: most of the time these big budget films bomb because of very boring corporate bureaucracy and mismanagement.

    The film was stuck with marketing teams actively trying to leave their job before the merger, Disney had no time to promote the movie as they would like to post-merger. That’s it.

    The film’s quality is another question. As far as we know, Kinberg made the film he wanted to make (claims Deadline), and frankly the movie is competently made. It’s just a mediocre-bad film. It happens, but for it to flop the way it did says more about how the product was sold, not the quality of the product.

  10. >Audience fatigue and erosion have hit even the most venerable franchises.

    No. You made a bad movie. Admit that you made a bad movie instead of blaming the audience like you always do.

  11. >thinking that the movie’s failure had been due to an excessive amount of explosions and scale,

    I hadn’t heard any complaints about the action scenes. It was all “too many separate introductions and a generic ‘bad’ guy.” Those complaints boil down to *character* development and how it had been mishandled, not action or set pieces.

  12. > Part of the reasoning was that Dark Phoenix was not designed to be a summer movie, says the Fox insider. In some ways, it was designed to be an anti-Apocalypse, to have less spectacle and scale. Big for off-season, too small for summer, says this person.

    They still don’t get it.

    They can schedule this ass for whenever they want. It is still ass.

    Bad casting, plus we were just force fed the same garbage within recent memory.

  13. God, even that scene in the image is terrible. I can look beyond the fact that the background betrays a perfect day. But the “rain” is a downpour on poor Xavier but hardly a drizzle on the right side. What, did they use a garden hose? What is happening in this scene? Are they supposed to be on a golf course and the sprinkler system turned on?

  14. Every Marvel movie ever proves that is not franchise fatigue or superhero movie fatigue. Hell even the DC movies do pretty good even if they’re not that great. The problem with apocalypse and now dark Phoenix is that they are steaming piles of crap. That’s why no one seeing them, that’s why it’s not making money.

  15. Very interesting read, it’s intriguing to see the real-world forces that pull such a promising IP in so many directions and create such a confusing and disastrous product. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Stop forcing the Dark Phoenix story. Or at least set it up or make it 2 movies. It’s too large to make just one movie and too overrated to not cash on more

  17. I think the audience have lost touch with the X-men franchise. I know I have and I have zero desire to see their movies.

  18. Isn’t this like their third try with this one plotline?

    Give it the fuck up, idiots. You guys can’t make this movie worth watching and that was obvious in 2016.

  19. Much like Mike on hitb I thought it was a perfectly fine movie I don’t regret watching and I did enjoy it about as much as the early x-men films. It largely suffers from the sense that no one cares because it’s over and it’s being rebooted. So you feel like “who cares” from the cast and crew down to the marketing campaign itself.

    That being said give me a damn colorful x-men film with the aesthetics of the 90’s cartoon. Perhaps Ryan Coogler should do it. Black Panther, visually (third act cgi notwithstanding) remains my favorite MCU film. Because it pops like crazy and the costumes are so so good and the cinematography highlights the fantastic designs.

  20. It isnt franchise fatigue beyond it being after the positively awful Apocalypse. People were willing to give it a second chance, at least most of the people I knew were. But then the first trailer was underwhelming and looked like more of the same, and then the last trailer was incredibly bad. And it was Dark Phoenix again for fucks sake, when we didn’t have the Phoenix yet (or shouldn’t have. Wtf Apocalypse). Not to mention your only associations amongst the non-book reading public was going to be X3, one of the worst comic book movies. They needed to not do Dark Phoenix again, and if they did, it needed to have a perfect marketing campaign. Which it didnt, lol. And most comic book afficionados knew with the acquisition this wasnt going anywhere, it didnt look great from the marketing, and Apocalypse sucked, so why bother seeing this? This movie was doomed since about a year ago. I wonder if they’re even going to bother releasing New Mutants.

  21. Maybe they should stick with the story that made the event and characters so loved in the first place instead of thinking you know better and changing things so much that the only thing that is actually the same as the source material is the name.

  22. As a diehard superhero fan who watches most, if not all superhero movies in theatres, I didn’t feel even an inkling of need or desire to watch Dark Phoenix in theatres. Even before the reviews came out. Here’s why –

    1. IT’S THE SAME FUCKING STORY! I mean, I’m not as down on remakes as everyone else on this site but this film, which was purported to be the ‘better’ adaptation of the Dark Phoenix story didn’t feel like it was doing any of the right things. The Dark Phoenix idea wasn’t properly set up previously to justify this film, The X-Men STILL don’t look like X-Men but rather a bunch of superhero-types who could’ve wandered in from a generic superhero show. They even introduced their costumes in THE PREVIOUS FUCKING MOVIE and they are nowhere to be found here.
    2. Apart from Xavier and Magneto, none of the other characters are even remotely interesting and now, with the absence of Wolverine, their blandness is even more apparent
    3. While not technically this movie’s fault, Apocalypse was just one mega-bland bore for me. So much so that it just made it hard to get excited for a follow-up to that film
    4. And again, it’s not DP’s fault specifically but Endgame having released just a couple of months ago and being as great as it was just sort of brought out the blandness of this film from the trailers itself. I remember when Endgame’s first trailer came out and people (including myself) were just giddy with excitement and theories etc. The first trailer for DP wasn’t even remotely as captivating
    5. Finally, and this in no way is me condoning this dude, and I think he’s a fucking asshole but it stands to reason that the lack of Bryan Singer directing this film really hurt it. I know that may be controversial and I know he did Apocalypse but when it comes to the X-films, even with all their inconsistencies, generally speaking, the Bryan Singer directed films have all (but one) turned out fantastic. Now this doesn’t mean I would’ve wanted him to direct this one specifically but I’m just pointing out that his removal was a factor. Of course, why Fox didn’t go with another accomplished director (eg: Matthew Vaughn, Joss Whedon, Jordan Voight, Garreth Edwards etc) and gave the reins to their supposed final X-Men movie to a FIRST TIME director in Simon Kinberg, I will never understand.

    I would’ve thought the MCU could’ve shown these people that superheroes can be fully embraced and still made complex. For a series focusing on characters put forward as ‘the next step of human evolution’, it’s ironic that these movies absolutely refuse to evolve.

  23. The action in apocalypse wasn’t the problem. It was some of the writing and also Magneto being the end villain…. again. For the 10th time

  24. Rob from Comics Explained on YouTube did a video on why it was such shit. With Thanos he had a massive buildup and you really felt the looming threat, but the Dark Phenix was just dropped in one movie with no lead in. It’s ment to be a long saga like the comics but they just wanted the name recognition of it, with none of the deeper story.

  25. MovieBob really did a good analysis of why the comics version of this story works and how it needs to be approached if you’re going to translate it to the big screen (which they have failed to do twice now) back in 2016:

  26. I had a feeling that this movie would be bad, but I decided to give it a chance out of respect for the franchise I loved. And I have A-List so it’s not like it cost me any extra, other than my time. Boy what a waste of time. The guy who wrote Last Stand, the movie universally hated by the X-Men fans, basically re-used the same script with minor tweaks here and there. They really thought this would work? And they are talking about fatigue and release date? What a joke. I hope Marvel can do X-Men justice.

  27. “Why this movie was bad”

    By People who don’t understand how writing, acting or visual media works…

  28. This is not about a bad script as some people here say, that would explain why people didn’t like the film, not why people didn’t go to see it altogether.


    It is about audiences being fatigued with a stream of bad, inconsistent, unfocused, sparse films in a franchise. I didn’t even care about this film, after seeing the previous ones. Because I can’t keep track of where is the franchise standing at the moment, what is happening, who is who, where are they going, etc. So I just watched the trailer and decided to skip it.

  29. > At the time, preparations for the Disney-Fox acquisition were in full swing. Marketing and publicity and distribution execs were either being forced out or had one eye on the door. “The campaign was muddled,” says a former Fox executive. “Was this the final X-Men movie? Was it about a character going back? This movie just got lost.

    That has nothing to do with the Disney merger. X-Men has been a meandering mess since x-2.

    > Says Dergarabedian: “Never give up on a franchise that’s been this good, this ubiquitous and this influential. I’m sure there’s more to come.”

    This is a franchise?! X-Men has been in a constant state of reboot. The Best x-Men movies made in the last 20s years are decidedly not part of the franchise that includes Dark Pheonix.

  30. This article is the thing that is wrong.

    It’s blaming “franchise fatigue”

    and ignoring “the movies legitimately and deeply suck and are insulting to fans because they shit on the source material so hard”

    Who wants to see Dark Phoenix given the origin story of The Fantastic Four? “we went into space for some random reason, and got hit with cosmic energy!!”

    uh… dark phoenix is supposed to be about the X-men going to a different galaxy and helping an empire there in a war and feature characters like Gladiator – who’s power level varies with his confidence level.

    Here he is in the animated series

    Is gladiator in the dark phoenix movie? I wouldn’t know – because they made Apocalypse into “random egyptian dude wakes up and wants to kill everyone and absorb professor X”… so I won’t be seeing Dark Phoenix. But I assume Gladiator is not in it. Because it’s shit.

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