- The latest “X-Men” movie, “Dark Phoenix,” bombed at the box office over the weekend with $33 million in the US, the lowest opening in the franchise.
- But box-office experts agree that the franchise isn’t dead just yet now that Disney is in charge, and there are two major reasons why.
- Exhibitor Relations senior box-office analyst Jeff Bock said that Disney shouldn’t waste any time before making another R-rated “Deadpool” movie.
- Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said that Disney’s upcoming streaming platform, Disney Plus, provides a perfect opportunity to introduce the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Dark Phoenix” is a box-office disaster, but experts agree that the “X-Men” franchise will rise from the ashes at Disney.
The latest “X-Men” movie, directed by longtime franchise producer and writer, Simon Kinberg, opened over the weekend with the lowest box-office debut of the series yet, with $33 million in the US. It’s a disappointing result for the studio Fox, which has churned out “X-Men” movies for nearly two decades, with “Dark Phoenix” being the end of the line before Disney takes over.
While “Dark Phoenix” is crashing with audiences and critics alike (it’s the lowest-rated “X-Men” movie on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 23% critic score), experts still see little reason for Disney – which acquired Fox this year in a massive $71 billion merger – to give up on the franchise.
“The fans have not given up,” the Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Business Insider. “They just expect something of quality that reflects what they have come to expect over the years from the beloved and monumental ‘X-Men’ franchise.”
- 20th Century Fox
There’s good business in R-rated movies
The franchise’s last two main entries, “Dark Phoenix” and 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” underwhelmed, but recent spin-offs like the “Deadpool” movies and “Logan” have been hits with critics and fans, showing that the franchise still has some juice left in it. The “Deadpool” movies are the two highest grossing movies in the franchise, and “Logan” earned an impressive $619 million worldwide.
Aside from those movies’ loose ties to the “X-Men” brand, which Fox ditched from the “Dark Phoenix” title in the US, they have something else in common: an R rating.
“The franchise has offered some of the coolest characters, innovative stories and risk taking that paid off big,” Dergarabedian said. “Just look at the huge creative and financial dividends paid by going the R-rated route with ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan,’ for example.”
The Exhibitor Relations senior box-office expert Jeff Bock said that Disney should waste no time in showing fans that it is willing to make movies like “Deadpool” and “Logan.”
“Giving people solid ‘Deadpool 3’ or ‘X-Force’ installments would do wonders for the lip service Disney has been providing, and ultimately convince true fans that they won’t stray from darker, more adult-oriented territory,” Bock said. “There’s no reason why Disney can’t have R-rated content in the superhero fold, which have done wonders for expanding the brand.”
“X-Force,” a spin-off of “Deadpool 2,” was in development prior to the Fox merger with the “Cabin in the Woods” director Drew Goddard, but has reportedly been scrapped.
However, Disney CEO Bob Iger said earlier this year that Disney will keep making R-rated “Deadpool” movies as long as they are branded accordingly.
- Marvel Studios
Disney Plus provides a unique opportunity
Based on Iger’s comments, future “Deadpool” movies won’t be associated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which fans have anticipated will eventually introduce the X-Men characters and Fox’s other Marvel super-team, the Fantastic Four.
It’s possible that Disney could introduce the X-Men in television rather than on the big screen.
Disney’s upcoming streaming platform, Disney Plus, launches November 12, and the company is developing several Marvel TV shows that will be exclusive to the platform, but also tie directly into the larger MCU. Dergarabedian said this is a perfect opportunity.
A “WandaVision” TV series is in development, in which Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will reprise their MCU roles of Scarlet Witch and Vision, respectively. In the comics, Scarlet Witch is a mutant and the daughter of X-Men villain Magneto.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that there is a “five-year plan” in place for the MCU that will be revealed later this year. Whether that includes the X-Men, either in theaters or on Disney Plus, remains to be seen. We know Marvel has eight release dates in theaters for yet-to-be-announced movies, and at least three Disney Plus shows in development.
Read more of Business Insider’s “Dark Phoenix” coverage:
- Why the latest ‘X-Men’ movie, ‘Dark Phoenix,’ was doomed from the start
- In the worst opening weekend ever for an ‘X-Men’ movie, ‘Dark Phoenix’ made just $33 million
- ‘Dark Phoenix’ proves it’s time for a big break from the ‘X-Men’ franchise, but the international box office could make that a tough decision for Disney
- ‘Dark Phoenix’ is the worst-reviewed ‘X-Men’ movie of all time, but the international box office could save it