Simon Kinberg, the director of forthcoming X-Men installment Dark Phoenix, has explained why the movie was delayed by several months. Dark Phoenix is the fourth movie to feature the new X-Men cast led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence and is based on the highly regarded comic story of the same name, in which Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) loses control of her psychic powers and takes on the formidable new persona, Phoenix. This story was previously adapted in the much-maligned X-Men: The Last Stand but since Days of Future Past essentially rewrote the franchise's timeline, the events of the Dark Phoenix saga can now be retold on the big screen.
After originally thought to be arriving in theaters in November 2018, the release of the Dark Phoenix trailer confirmed a rescheduling to February 14th 2019. However, that date too has now been scrapped and the movie pushed back to June 2019. Reports of reshoots taking place muddied the waters further and led some to question whether or not there were fundamental problems behind the scenes causing these delays.
Kinberg has now explained the real reason for the date changes. In an interview with Collider (via CBR), Kingberg argued that reshoots are very much standard practice for Hollywood blockbusters now and roughly explained what parts of Dark Phoenix needed extra work.
“Mostly we focused on the third act, both emotionally and in terms of the physical scale and the action of the third act that we adjusted. And then there were certain things in the first two acts of the movie - very few things, but to set up those changes in the third act we had to adjust some things in the first two acts so that that all was fluid and felt consistent.”
However, Kinberg also explained that the reshoots weren't the sole reason behind Dark Phoenix's delay. Rather, additional digital effects work and the option of moving to a more attractive slot in the calendar were both factors. Kinberg states:
"It was a date, February 14th, that we initially liked for the movie but when we realized that we weren’t gonna have the visual effects ready to release it globally the way we wanted to, and the Gambit date opened up because it wasn’t gonna be ready for that June 7th date. We looked at that date versus the February 14th date, the studio did and we did, we felt like that June date was a bigger opportunity for us globally. More screens, more IMAX screens, a better chance to play in China where these movies have a massive following."
Kinberg's assertion that reshoots are becoming the norm, and are no longer necessarily the warning sign that they used to be, certainly makes sense. An increasing amount of big-budget productions are making use of the practice and while reassembling a movie's cast for additional filming after production had already wrapped was once a sure sign that either the studio or test audiences weren't pleased, it seems that directors nowadays simply have the budget available to go back and make improvements should they deem it necessary.
It's also interesting how Kinberg's comments highlight the growing importance of the Chinese market. Whether it be shifting release dates or putting together a cut of the film especially for the region, an increasing amount of Hollywood productions are making their movies with China firmly in mind due to the sheer amount of revenue that the market can bring in. As the latest movie in a series that some would argue has been on the decline, Fox have a lot riding on Dark Phoenix and it's understandable they would be happy to push the film back a few months in order to maximize its chances of success.
With that said, it is also understandable that reshoots and date changes would have X-Men fans concerned. Given how badly the last attempt to adapt the Dark Phoenix story went, the pressure is firmly on Kinberg to get Dark Phoenix right as the franchise's second attempt.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020