20th Century Fox certainly has a lot on its hands in terms of its X-Men universe output. As far as the primary series is concerned, reports suggest that another movie is planned with the central trio of Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy set in the 90s. Additionally, there is the New Mutants feature to be directed by Josh Boone, the forthcoming Wolverine sequel Logan, the Channing Tatum-fronted Gambit movie and the small matter of a sequel — and most likely a threequel — to Deadpool.
Despite this abundance of projects, the future direction of the X-Men franchise is far from certain. Much of the information available regarding New Mutants is limited to rumor and informed speculation and after X-Men: Apocalypse underperformed at the box office, it was unclear whether Fox would press ahead with that timeline — particularly as Lawrence, Fassbender, and McAvoy’s contracts all ended with that movie. Recent reports suggested that Fox wanted to re-sign its central trio but also perform a ‘soft reset’ on the franchise in an order to boost popularity.
Finally, however, it seems as if the studio’s immediate plans for its mutant contingent are beginning to come to light. French language outlet Le Journal De Montréal is reporting that 20th Century Fox have established production offices at MELS Studios in Montreal, with the intention of starting set construction as soon as January and filming in May. MELS president Michel Trudel states:
“They will start shooting in May and they will occupy Studios 2 and 3 of MELS for several months. We had two and a half months of negotiations with the people at Fox… We are very pleased that they have agreed to return to Montreal. They enjoyed their two previous shooting experience with us and they were very satisfied with our facilities and talent of the Quebec film industry.”
While Trudel doesn’t specify exactly what film will shoot at his studio, the two previous movies he refers to are X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse. This may infer that the May production is the continuation of Simon Kinberg’s main X-Men series that will be set in the 90s and continue on from Apocalypse. However, without confirmation, it is arguably more likely that New Mutants will be the production taking residence in Montreal, as Kinberg has previously stated that the movie would begin filming in spring 2017 and Fox may not be comfortable shooting two X-Men movies concurrently.
If New Mutants is indeed the mystery movie, this may get fans excited about the prospect of a new direction for the X-Men franchise. Kinberg has already confirmed the film will stay loyal to its comic book source material and has promised an appearance from Professor X, with Alexandra Shipp’s Storm also rumored to feature. The success of Deadpool proved that a smaller-scale production and more adult-orientated content needn’t hinder a movie’s financial success and 20th Century Fox may well be keen to see if they can produce another huge hit.
Of course despite recent outings receiving a muted reception, the studio won’t have given up on the main X-Men timeline just yet, even if they can’t tempt the likes of Jennifer Lawrence back into the fold. However, given how Lawrence has been utilized in the last two X-Men movies, perhaps a move into new territory for a little while would do the franchise a whole lot of good.