Dark Phoenix, the latest, and possibly last, X-Men film should have been a home run. It’s a Marvel movie starring Game of Thrones alumni Sophie Turner, after all. However, the film bombed at the box office, making less than a quarter of its budget back on opening weekend. Here’s everything you need to know about 2019’s biggest box office bomb so far.
Dark Phoenix: A Box-Office Bomb
20th Century Fox and Marvel jointly released Dark Phoenix – apparently the last X-Men movie in the popular franchise – earlier this month. With a budget of $200 million, 20th Century Fox expected Phoenix to bring in $60-$80 million domestically over its first weekend, like 2016’s similarly-budgeted film, X-Men: Apocalypse. However, it only made around $33 million on opening weekend. Its earnings mean Dark Phoenix had the lowest-earning weekend of any X-Men movie ever. Worse still, Phoenix is the third worst performing Marvel movie of all time, just rising above Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) and Elektra (2005). Its opening also makes the film an early contender for the worst box office bomb of 2019.
The first X-Men movie debuted in 2000, one of the first Marvel movies made. It immediately became a massive hit, much in thanks to actor Hugh Jackman’s turn as Wolverine. The third film in the original trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand from 2006, remains the highest domestic earner and had an opening weekend of over $100 million. Since 2006, other major actors have joined the franchise, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence. Unfortunately, it seems as though new actors are not enough to sell tickets.
What Went Wrong
Dark Phoneix experienced troubles from the get-go. First, fans only met Turner’s character, Jean Grey, briefly in the 2016 film, X-Men: Apocalypse, which previously held the title of lowest-earning X-Men movie. Basing an entire movie around a character only seen for moments in a film few saw is not a great way to get butts in seats. Furthermore, filming wrapped nearly two years ago, back in October 2017. However, director-writer Simon Kinberg later reshot the entire third act after horrible test audience reviews. Meanwhile, Phoenix‘s marketing team made a terrible mistake by revealing that Mystique, aka Jennifer Lawrence, dies at the end of the film. Not only did potential viewers not recognize the main character, they knew a major twist!
Then, the reviews came. While some enjoyed the film, most did not. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film earned 23% from critics and 64% from fans. Many fans felt betrayed by Turner’s one-dimensional portrayal of her character. The film is based on “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” a series of X-Men comics in which Jean Grey becomes a super-villain. According to fans, Turner could not carry the role of a fallen superhero torn between good and evil.
While, usually, no one wants to accept responsibility in these situations, Kinberg stood up and took the blame. “I’m here and I’m saying when a movie doesn’t work, put it on me,” Kinberg said on the podcast The Business. “I’m the writer/director of the movie, the movie didn’t connect with audiences, that’s on me.”
What’s Next For Sophie Turner and X-Men?
Between her recent marriage to Joe Jonas and her lead role on mega-hit Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner is one of the most talked about actresses around. While viewers will likely soon forget her X-Men part, but it’s good to have on her resume. While Turner could continue to earn large paychecks by starring in one big-budget movie or television show after another, some fans worry she might never be able to spread her wings. Some want her to go the indie-movie, small Netflix film route, expanding the variety of her acting gigs. Whatever Turner chooses to do, we’re sure she’ll do great!
Meanwhile, others are asking questions about the future of X-Men movies. While spinoffs Deadpool 3 and The New Mutants are in the works, 20th Century Fox and Marvel intended Dark Phoenix to be the final film in the X-Men branded franchise, after a run of nearly 20 years. Now, however, with a bad taste in the mouths of both fans and critics alike, they may move to extend the franchise, giving fans the ending they still want. They may also reboot the franchise sooner than anticipated, wiping the slate clean. Or, these new box office numbers confirm that the franchise should end and they leave it alone. We’ll have to wait and see!