Dark Phoenix has officially ended its theatrical run as the lowest-grossing X-Men movie ever. Based on Marvel comics characters originally created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the X-Men movie franchise kicked off in 2000 with a cast headed up by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Ian McKellen as Magneto. The film proved to be a hit with $296 million grossed at the worldwide box office, proving the viability of the X-Men as a film property.
After the success of that first X-Men film, 20th Century Fox indeed went forward with an entire franchise, which ultimately would encompass 12 total movies including a trio of Wolverine solo films and two movies starring subversive comic book anti-hero Deadpool. There were of course many twists and turns for the series over the years, including a major reboot with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, which introduced younger versions of the main characters. In 2019, X-Men returned again for Dark Phoenix, a movie that was intended to put a capper on the long-running series just as Disney took over the property with a possible eye toward folding the X-Men into the MCU, a move that would allow characters like Wolverine and Deadpool to crossover with other popular Marvel properties.
But unfortunately for X-Men, Dark Phoenix proved to be less a triumphant franchise culmination than a disastrous final bow-out. According to numbers from Box Office Mojo (via ComicBookMovie), Dark Phoenix has now officially ended its theatrical run and stands as the lowest-grossing X-Men movie ever. The final domestic tally for the film was a paltry $65 million, or less than half what was grossed by the next-worst-performing film in the series, 2013’s critically maligned The Wolverine ($132 million). Dark Phoenix also comes in dead last among X-Men movies worldwide, with just $252 million earned, even below the original X-Men which managed $296 million way back in 2000.
To date, the two top-grossing X-Men movies are Deadpool and its sequel Deadpool 2, which of course are not official entries in the main series. The highest-grossing true X-Men movie is 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, which grossed $747 million worldwide. But after that high water mark, X-Men began showing diminishing returns at the global box office, with 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse taking in just $543 million. After Dark Phoenix bottomed-out with just $252 million, Disney blamed the film's poor showing for the company losing $170 million in the third quarter.
Given Disney's obvious disappointment with Dark Phoenix and its performance, it's fair to wonder if X-Men now has any future left as a franchise. Disney could of course always elect to go the low-risk route and bring the series back on their streaming service Disney+, and they can always pluck certain characters and plug them into future MCU movies on a selective basis. But it seems fans have seen the last of the X-Men together on the big screen for what could be many years, and that's frankly sad.
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