The Disney-Fox deal has moved at a rapid pace since the two companies agreed to a deal last December. A brief bidding war slowed things down by a few weeks, but in just over seven months, the companies had approval from their shareholders and the Justice Department.
As the Disney-Fox deal moved along, however, two Fox-produced Marvel movies ground to a near halt. X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants, both due next year, are in need of reshoots that have been on hold for a number of months because stars from each film needed time to finish the final season of Game of Thrones.
The Disney-Fox deal being ahead of schedule coupled with the delays of Dark Phoenix and New Mutants has led to speculation that both films could be shelved. That will not happen, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. A source with knowledge of Disney’s plans says the studio will release any Fox movies that are complete, or in production by the time the merger is completed.
Dark Phoenix and New Mutants, which have finished principal photography, will at least qualify as “in production.” There is still a good chance that Dark Phoenix (out February 14, 2019) will be released by Fox before Disney takes over, but New Mutants (out August 2, 2019) is likely to end up in Disney’s hands.
Disney and Fox are still waiting on regulatory approvals from major international markets before their deal can close. Prior to last month’s vote, the companies informed their shareholders that they expected the deal to be completed within six to twelve months from June 20, 2018. That means Disney could be in control of Fox’s movie studio before year’s end, though most believe the deal won’t close until sometime next year.
There are conflicting reports regarding reshoots for X-Men: Dark Phoenix taking anywhere from two and a half weeks to three months. In either case, those reshoots should be completed by the time Disney is in control, so it is unlikely the studio will be in a position to cancel them and shelve the film. Dark Phoenix is going to be completed.
The timeframe for the Disney-Fox deal to close and today’s report from WSJ are good signs for Dark Phoenix and New Mutants, but forgive me if I don’t believe these movies are out of the woods just yet.
First, depending on the actual length of the reshoots, Dark Phoenix may not actually hit its February 2019 release date. If it does, then the movie might make it into theaters before Disney even has the authority to decide on its fate. If the reshoots cause another delay (the movie was supposed to be out November 2, 2018), however, then there are no guarantees. Fox doesn’t even feel like Dark Phoenix is enough of a guarantee to list the film on their website, but at least New Mutants is there.
New Mutants is coming out after the window in which the Disney-Fox deal is expected to close. That means Disney will most likely distribute the film instead of Fox. Even if WSJ‘s sources are correct and Disney will release all completed or in-production Fox movies, there are other options for distribution besides theaters.
Once Disney is in control, the studio has the option of releasing Fox movies on Disney’s new streaming service (launching late next year), or on Hulu, which Disney will own a majority share of via the Fox deal. It’s likely Disney will be in charge in time to have that option for New Mutants. It’s less likely, but possible Disney will have the authority soon enough to consider the same choice for Dark Phoenix.
The thought of shelving big budget movies that have already been made, or even putting them on a streaming platform instead of in theaters, seems crazy. Disney probably would not even consider that for most Fox movies, but the Marvel properties are a special case.
The difference between the Marvel films and everything else on Fox’s slate is that there is another Disney-owned studio sure to have designs on what to do with the characters involved once the deal closes. If X-Men: Dark Phoenix looks like a stinker, just as X-Men: Apocalypse was in 2016, would Disney, if the studio can do anything about it, really just let the film come out and further tarnish a brand that will be a critical part of Marvel Studios’ future success?
It has already been 805 days since we had our last bad X-Men movie. That total will increase to 993 days by Dark Phoenix‘s current release date. If the movie is not up to par and Disney has the necessary authority, it would be perfectly reasonable to exercise that authority to prevent the “days without incident” calendar from resetting to zero. That does not have to mean shelving the film, as it could just mean putting it on a streaming service to minimize the damage it can cause.
If Dark Phoenix is good, however, then, by all means, release it in theaters.
New Mutants is a much smaller film. It is X-Men-related, but not part of the main franchise, so it can’t do as much harm. Funny that the film Disney is more likely to be in control of is the one they have to worry the least about. New Mutants may get to enjoy a theatrical run as a nice one-off.
The most likely scenario is that we will see X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants in theaters. They are destined to be lame duck releases, however, as Marvel Studios is almost certain to reboot everything outside of Deadpool as mutants are incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
One goal of these reshoots, besides making sure they get done on time and on budget, should be to make sure Dark Phoenix and New Mutants have definitive endings. There is no use in setting up sequels that will never be made.
SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal