Only a day after releasing the first trailer, Fox again moved the release of Dark Phoenix, this time from Feb. 14, 2019, to June 7, 2019. While conventional wisdom suggests that repeated delays are indicative of production problems or studio uncertainty, this one actually represents a show of confidence, even as the X-Men sequel continues reshoots. And the public response to the first official footage very well may have been what spurred Fox’s decision.
The trailer racked up nearly 8 million views within the first 24 hours of release, on Fox’s YouTube channel alone. While that number may not seem particularly impressive, considering Captain Marvel garnered 109 million views within the same period across all channels, Dark Phoenix‘s performance in China is undoubtedly a bigger factor in the schedule change.
Deadline reports that, through assorted Chinese streaming channels, the X-Men trailer clocked 44 million views within its initial 24 hours. The June release date actually positions Dark Phoenix for a stronger opening in China, away from the more competitive Chinese New Year weekend for which it was previously scheduled. The world’s second-largest film market, China is crucial to many Hollywood blockbusters, and helped to propel Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War to its $2 billion global box office. With its new opening weekend, the X-Men sequel will now go up against The Secret Life of Pets 2 and the Lionsgate comedy Flarsky on U.S. screens, and is cleared to dominate the worldwide box office during a traditionally more lucrative movie season.
The expanded post-production window also gives the filmmakers more time to spend on visual effects.With Dark Phoenix in the midst of reshoots, the four-month delay will allow director Simon Kinberg more time to fine-tune the sequel. As one of the more ambitious X-Men films to date, the added attention to effects for Dark Phoenix is paramount to its success, especially for a franchise struggling to recover from the poorly received previous installment, 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.
Finally, another major factor in Fox’s decision to schedule Dark Phoenix for a June release undoubtedly comes down to Gambit, or lack thereof. The studio previously scheduled Channing Tatum’s X-Men spinoff for that date in hopes the frequently delayed film would begin principal photography this summer. However, the project is still without a director, after passing through three. While the film is still reportedly in development, production troubles left a noticeable gap in the studio’s calendar during Hollywood’s most competitive season. By moving the premieres of Alita: Battle Angel to Feb. 14, 2019, and Dark Phoenix to June, the studio has re-positioned the two tentpole films for potentially larger audiences.
With director Josh Boone’s The New Mutants scheduled for release in August 2019, following its own delays and reshoots, and Dark Phoenix now set for June, that summer will be effectively book-ended by X-Men films just as Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox is finalized, and the characters make their way to Marvel Studios. They might as well go out on a high note.
Written and directed by franchise veteran Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix stars Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Alexandra Ship as Storm, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler. The film opens June 7, 2019.
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