It’s the last film in the not-MCU X-Men franchise. The movie was more indecisive than a virgin on Prom Night. It finally came out in theaters. Then the reviews hit the fan. Hard.
According to Forbes (and you know your film sucks when a business magazine is covering it), Dark Phoenix earned only $2.3 million on its second Friday, down 83.2% from a miserly $14 million opening day.
Due respect, and bracing for the SnyderBots to attack, but that is technically a more calamitous drop than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (-81%) and the biggest such drop for any major comic book superhero movie in history.
For reference, the last “Dark Phoenix” movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, earned $77 million in its first two days of domestic release. Considering the budgetary differences, this will be a much bigger loss for all parties than Fantastic Four, which earned $56 million domestic and $167 million worldwide from a $120 million budget.
That dude hanging with Sansa Stark is Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg.
As a producer, he has driven a roller coaster of emotion pertaining to comic book movies. On one withered hand of funk, he produced Fant4stic and X-Men: Apocalypse. And on the other more pronounced hand of authority, he produced Logan and Deadpool.
In short, he knows what he’s doing…and sometimes, not so much. Then Dark Phoenix happened. Many believe that bird should have just burned in apogee instead of going scorched Earth on his career. You see, this was his directorial debut. Kinberg pointed people the way should go on-screen. It was his call. That may have been the problem.
How do we know? He said so.
On Los Angeles NPR station, KCRW 89.9 FM, Kinberg decided to do an interview with “The Business” to discuss that loud thud nerds have heard across the nation.
While he’s been with the franchise since 2006, those 13 years were not enough to help with all the elbow grease he needed to polish this X-turd. There were the reshoots, release date changes, delays in production, and then that whole Fox/Disney imbroglio (e.g., huge layoffs, no publicity or marketing efforts, rushed promotion).
Kinberg acknowledged that when a movie doesn’t work, there’s a lot of finger pointing, but said ultimately it comes down to him: “I’m here, I’m saying when a movie doesn’t work, put it on me. I’m the writer-director, the movie didn’t connect with audiences, that’s on me.”
What Caused the Burnout?
Despite the many release dates, all those delays, and then finally being released only weeks after what everyone and their mother knew was going to be the biggest movie ever… are those really the reasons this film had the lowest opening of any film in the X-Men franchise ($33 million)? Not if you ask Kinberg.
“I mean honestly, there’s no way to know,” he said. “And that’s the thing that I think can drive people crazy and keep them up and be thinking about a movie’s failure years later. If the lesson you’ve learned is that you had the wrong date or you didn’t have good marketing–that’s not a lesson.”
No lesson. What you would learn if you go to film school is this — no matter the video special effects, CGI, big-list actors, or highfalutin directors, if the writing sucks out loud, that sound can become deafening.
It causes ripples on social media. It drowns out any positive reviews on crowdsourcing sites. And it certainly causes the critics to stick their fingers in their collective ears clamoring, “nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.”
If you watch the trailers, you go into the movie thinking Jean gets imbued with all this cosmic power, learns to harness it, and goes full power hungry millennial on everyone. When you see the movie, you realize it’s something different completely (no spoilers). And that feels like a wet blanket, because it wraps you in a bunch of meh.
Regardless, Kinberg fell on his blunt sword for the failure. It was a group effort driving this thing into an iceberg, but the captain is so going down with this ship. And he probably should, but it started with the script…not the marketing, scheduling, or acting.
Moral of the story? When X-Men finally is handled by Marvel Studios, give a raise to the writing and editing team. They may need it.