X-Men: Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg accepted the full blame for the film’s box office failure, but could Captain Marvel be to blame?
The film has only grossed $204.5 million at the global box office and only $52.1 million is from the domestic box office. The movie has been in theaters for a almost a week and a half.
Kinberg appeared on the KCRW podcast “The Business” where he accepted responsibility for the film’s failure. “I’m here and I’m saying when a movie doesn’t work, put it on me.” He added, “I’m the writer/director of the movie, the movie didn’t connect with audiences, that’s on me.”
And while Kinberg accepted failure he did note, “I actually really like the movie, [and] I had an amazing time making the movie.”
Following X-Men: Dark Phoenix’s opening weekend a number of reports have detailed the behind-the-scenes drama attempting to explain the film’s failure at the box office. Both the The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline placed blame on Alita: Battle Angel because it got a more preferred release date in February. However, there are also reports that Fox’s marketing team didn’t even know when X-Men: Dark Phoenix was going to be released. They also reportedly didn’t realize it was going to go head to head with Secret Life of Pets 2.
Disney and Captain Marvel
However, X-Men: Dark Phoenix was also caught up in the middle of the Fox and Disney deal. And that deal might have radically altered the entire film.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix was originally supposed to be two films according to Deadline. They indicate it was changed to one film during “late pre-production.” This change might have come when word started spreading that Disney would be acquiring Fox.
Kinberg told Slashfilm back in March of 2017, “We’re in early stages of prep on it.” The Disney and Fox rumors would really hit high gear in late 2017. Variety reported in November of 2017, “Reports that the two media companies had held talks in recent weeks sent Fox shares soaring.” It’s possible, Disney had Kinberg and Fox change their original plans given the deal.
To add fuel to this speculation, Cosmic Book News reports that Disney executives were actually seen on the set of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. They reported, “It’s claimed Disney execs were keeping an eye on things during the transition and were actively involved.”
And they might have made some significant changes to the X-Men: Dark Phoenix script as it was being created. Both Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain confirmed the movie was being rewritten while they were on set. Turner told ScreenRant, “Simon and I would sit down for two hours every day and just comb through each page of the script.” She added, “there was rewriting being done all the time.” Chastain also stated, “You could have a conversation and something comes from that and then the next morning, Simon would show up to work and say, ‘Hey, I wrote some pages that I think could be interesting for this direction we’re going.'”
Those changes to the script are especially highlighted with the removal of the Skrulls as the film’s villains. MCU fans will know that the Skrulls were prominently featured in Captain Marvel. Cyclops actor Tye Sheridan recently appeared on the ReelBlend podcast where he detailed that the Skrulls were actually supposed to be featured in X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
“It’s really hard for me to remember what the ending of this movie is. [laughs] Originally, it was scripted that Charles and Scott go to the U.N. because — man, I’m totally going to mess this up — they go to the U.N. because they’re going to try to tell the President that, ‘Hey, we’re under attack by aliens, and they’ve now captured Jean Grey.’ Or, you know, whatever it is that we’re going to tell him.
And then Jean comes down in the front of the U.N., and causes… there is this huge battle between the guards at the U.N. and Jean Grey, and all the guards turn out to be Skrulls. And then Jean and Scott are — Scott is fighting Skrulls in the fountain. He gets thrown into the fountain in front of the U.N. And then Jean comes down and basically fights all of the Skrulls off, and then blasts back off into space. [She] basically says goodbye to Scott and Charles. And then it’s all over, I guess.”
Not only were the Skrulls supposed to be featured in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, but the film was originally supposed to come out in theaters in November 2018, four months before Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. Thus moviegoers would have seen a cosmic-powered Sophie Turner as Jean Grey fighting the shape shifting Skrull aliens, before they saw the cosmic-powered Brie Larson as Captain Marvel fighting the Skrulls and Kree.
Fox would eventually push X-Men: Dark Phoenix to a February release date, where it would have come out a month ahead of Captain Marvel. However, that release date was changed just days later to June. Not only was the film pushed back twice, but Kinberg also detailed the film underwent extensive reshoots in order to change the third act. A third act that was reportedly extremely similar to Captain Marvel’s.
Kinberg told Collider, “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.”
But maybe the biggest piece of evidence is just how important Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios view Captain Marvel. Feige stated back in March that Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel “is about to take the lead and be at the forefront of the entire Cinematic Universe.”
What do you make of Simon Kinberg’s comments about accepting responsibility? Do you think Disney and Captain Marvel might have had a hand in causing Dark Phoenix to bomb at the box office? Do you think Kinberg might be working with Marvel Studios in the future?