- The X-Men spin-off movie “New Mutants” hit theaters on Friday after several release changes before and during the pandemic.
- Originally scheduled for release in 2018, the movie was delayed multiple times “ostensibly” due to the Disney-Fox merger, Vulture reported.
- Vulture’s Chris Lee reported this week that the movie went through various script rewrites, with pushback from director Josh Boone.
- Box Office Pro’s chief analyst, Shawn Robbins, projected the movie would make $7.5 million this weekend, writing that it “lacks a unified marketing identity.”
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“The New Mutants,” Fox’s long-delayed X-Men spin-off movie, finally hit theaters on Friday during a tumultuous time for Hollywood and the theatrical industry.
Major theater chains like AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas opened their doors in select US markets last weekend for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic shut theaters down five months ago.
Originally scheduled for release in April 2018, the troubled movie kept getting pushed back on the release calendar, first from 2018 to February 2019, just ahead of when Disney would finalize its acquisition of Fox’s movie studio in March. Then it was pushed to last August, then to April 2020.
Of course, the coronavirus upended that April release, and now the movie is seeing the light of day as the US still grapples with the pandemic.
Vulture’s Chris Lee reported on Wednesday that “The New Mutants” — about a group of teenage mutants discovering their powers while trapped at a secret facility — went through several script rewrites ahead of production, struggling to balance the right tone between horror movie and teen movie, with regular pushback from director Josh Boone. Eventually, Fox decided the movie needed to be straight horror, according to Vulture, and the script was further reworked.
Vulture’s report noted that the prolonged Disney-Fox merger was “ostensibly responsible for several of the film’s release delays.” Reports swirled last year that the movie had undergone extensive reshoots, which Boone has denied. He told Entertainment Weekly in March that if there were no Disney-Fox merger, reshoots probably would have taken place “the same way every movie does pickups.” But by the time the merger was finalized, “everybody’s older,” he said.
Now that “The New Mutants” is out in the world, it faces an uphill battle at the box office, even moreso than it would have under normal circumstances. Last year’s “X-Men” movie, “Dark Phoenix,” was a failure, grossing just $252 million worldwide off of a hefty $200 million production budget and was largely responsible for a $170 million third-quarter operating loss for Disney last year.
Box Office Pro’s chief analyst Shawn Robbins projected that “The New Mutants” would earn $7.5 million this weekend, down from its pre-pandemic estimate of $17 million in February. However, “New Mutants” had the lowest production budget of any “X-Men” movie.
“Compounding the unique situation of the current time, this is a film that was already facing the challenge of releasing soon after ‘Dark Phoenix’ — a film that underwhelmed at the box office in a notable way for such a big franchise,” Robbins wrote on Thursday. “‘Mutants’ also lacks a unified marketing identity for casual moviegoers given the widespread fan knowledge that it has nothing to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe curated by Disney, who are now distributing this film after inheriting it in the Fox deal.”
Russell Crowe’s road-rage thriller “Unhinged” opened last weekend as the first wide release in five months. It earned $4 million in the US, but its top five venues were all drive-in theaters, suggesting that audiences may not be completely comfortable returning to traditional theaters yet.
“The New Mutants” has received few reviews so far and doesn’t yet have a Rotten Tomatoes score. Disney didn’t offer advance press screenings and declined to offer screening links for the movie amid the pandemic, according to several outlets, including AV Club and Indiewire, who have refused to review it for these reasons.
The Hollywood Reporter called it “generic and, at its best, straining to be heartfelt” in its review.