Why is the review embargo lifting so late on X-Men: Dark Phoenix? The film is essentially the end of the current X-Men franchise, which is expected to be relaunched by Marvel Studios as part of the MCU. As such, it's something of a last hurrah for Fox's top talent, which includes actors like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, and Tye Sheridan.
Audiences seem a little wary of the film, with some box office predictions that it may have an all-time worst opening for the entire X-Men franchise. That's led Disney to change their marketing approach, using a similar strategy to the one that proved so successful for Avengers: Endgame. They're stressing that X-Men: Dark Phoenix is "the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies," a turn of phrase that will be very familiar indeed to superhero fans. Now, fans are worrying over something else: even as the film nears release, the Dark Phoenix review embargo has yet to lift.
It's true that, historically, late embargo dates have often reflected a studio's lack of confidence in their product; the later a review drops, the less time there is for negative comments to work against the marketing push. And yet, in the case of blockbuster superhero films like X-Men: Dark Phoenix, later review dates are pretty much the norm nowadays. This is partly to control the narrative for marketing purposes, and also to protect big twists the studios don't want known. It's likely a mixture of these two factors that are leading to X-Men: Dark Phoenix's late review embargo.
Marvel Studios has instigated late review embargoes for some of their most recent movies. In the case of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the review embargo lifted just four days before theatrical release, while for Captain Marvel it was only two days. Considering the reviews for all three films, especially the Avengers duology, were mostly positive, it's widely accepted this was done to ensure overzealous critics won't spoil a movie. X-Men: Dark Phoenix's late review embargo may simply reflect the influence of the same marketing team behind that strategy.
Given the concerns by fans over the quality of Dark Phoenix, there's inevitably going to be worries that Disney/Fox are trying to protect the film from mixed-or-worse reviews. Indeed, the marketing hasn't been shy about revealing spoilers, including a high-profile death (although there's sure to be more secrets in the film, not least the ultimate fate of Sophie Turner's Jean Grey). Of course, those who are doubtful about Dark Phoenix wouldn't be assured by an earlier embargo lift either.
One thing's for sure: with X-Men: Dark Phoenix hitting theaters later this week, audiences will get to have their say not long after the critics.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019