Dark Phoenix is projected to be a bigger bomb than the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot. Fox's run of X-Men movies came to an underwhelming conclusion earlier this summer, when Dark Phoenix received widely negative reviews and struggled mightily at the box office. The film earned just $33 million domestically in its opening weekend, which was a new all-time low for the franchise. A couple of weeks later, Dark Phoenix was pulled from half its theaters to make room for the Avengers: Endgame re-release.
Because of the Disney/Fox deal becoming official back in March, Dark Phoenix was alway something of a lame duck. The X-Men characters are set to be rebooted within the Marvel Cinematic Universe at an undetermined point in the future. Still, everyone involved was hoping for the film to be a success and send the series off on a high note. Unfortunately, it didn't just bomb, it actually performed worse than one of Fox's other notorious flops.
According to Forbes, Dark Phoenix is expected to end its run with just $250 million worldwide against a $200 million budget. Based on the multiplier, it fared worse in theaters than Fantastic Four, which earned $167 million globally against a budget of $120 million. Coincidentally, both films were subject to substantial reshoots and story changes before they were completed.
All of the X-Men movies predating Dark Phoenix were commercially successful to varying degrees (even the ones not as well-received, like Apocalypse), but things were working against Dark Phoenix from the jump. It had an unideal release date; Fox moved it to June to acquiesce James Cameron's request to shift Alita: Battle Angel to a less-competitive window, even though the X-Men team felt Dark Phoenix was better-suited for an offseason premiere. That summer debut meant Dark Phoenix would come out on the heels of Avengers: Endgame, this generation's defining cinematic event (which was a bigger juggernaut than even the rosiest optimists expected) that was only beginning to slow down by the time Dark Phoenix rolled around. Additionally, some people theorized Dark Phoenix fared poorly because 2017's Logan was seen by many casual viewers as the proper end to this era of X-Men movies. Something like Dark Phoenix felt inessential and anticlimactic.
As indicated above, both of these properties now fall under the MCU umbrella, but it's unknown when they'll be integrated into the franchise. Marvel is currently working on developing Phase 4 projects like Black Widow and The Eternals, as well as sequels to pre-existing series like Black Panther 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy 3. It sounds like both X-Men and Fantastic Four are years away, and that might be for the best. Even the most die-hard of Marvel fans would probably be in agreement that these two could use some time off from the big screen before they make anticipated returns in the MCU. Fantastic Four had two failed attempts at franchises, and X-Men just ended a mostly popular two-decade run. A little distance couldn't hurt.
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