Dark Phoenix's poor box office performance is a huge reason for Disney's third quarter loss. The final X-Men film marked the directorial debut of the franchise's longtime producer, Simon Kinberg. Sadly, critics didn't like it as much, which translated into its ticket sales. The film only earned $252 million at the global box office against a $200 million production budget, which wasn't enough to turn a decent profit.
Based on Chris Claremont's iconic The Dark Phoenix comic book narrative, Dark Phoenix is Fox's second crack at the storyline after the critically panned X-Men: The Last Stand. Aside from multiple release date delays, it also underwent extensive reshoots, apparently including reworking its whole third act after it was deemed too similar to the ending of another superhero film. However, changes were already happening to the script long before it even began production, as it was initially written to be a two-parter, until Fox requested otherwise and Kinberg ultimately complied.
CBR reports that during today's Disney's earnings call, CEO Bob Iger revealed that Dark Phoenix was partly to blame for their third quarter loss amounting to $170 million in operating costs. Because of this, the House of Mouse is "refocusing output," particularly regarding their Fox slate. He confirmed Ford v. Ferrari as it has officially started its marketing, as well as James Cameron's in-production Avatar sequels and more Planet of the Apes installments.
Dark Phoenix wasn't solely responsible for Disney's massive operating loss, films like Stuber and The Kid Who Would be King didn't do well at the box office either. That said, since it's part of an established superhero franchise, many were hoping that it would perform better than it did, much more so when marketing was fully transitioned to Disney's hands. Similar to how Avengers: Endgame was promoted as the culminating film of the MCU's The Infinity Saga, the House of Mouse leaned into the same aspect for Dark Phoenix. Much of its marketing material from that point onward highlighted all the films that came before it, and how it was supposed to be the epic send off to these beloved characters, until of course they get rebooted and added to the MCU. Obviously, that still wasn't effective.
To be fair, Dark Phoenix was also caught between the process of Disney acquiring Fox's TV and movie assets. While it started principal photography long before the buyout began, the idea that these Fox Marvel characters would eventually be rebooted anyway didn't help their cause. In fact, Fox marketing officials expressed their frustrations with the predicament, saying that the sale hindered their ability to craft an effective marketing campaign for the movie. Some would argue the movie wasn't that bad, and that X-Men: Apocalypse was worse. Either way, it really wasn't the fitting X-Men saga sendoff that fans hoped for.
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