Just what is going on with those X-Men: Dark Phoenix reshoots? In March this year, X-Men fans were taken aback when Fox chose to push back the release dates for both X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants in spite of the fact that promotion and marketing for the two films was already underway. Both films needed to undergo reshoots and additional photography, which isn’t unusual in the post-production phase, but it is unusual for reshoots to be so extensive or complex that the film has to be delayed.
Since then, the internet has been buzzing with rumors and speculation about the scale of these reshoots. This speculation hasn’t exactly been charitable, since Fox’s X-Men movies have generally been hit-and-miss, often struggling with behind-the-scenes drama. Given Disney’s proposed merger with 21st Century Fox, audiences can be forgiven for assuming that these last two troubled productions will be the end of the X-Men franchise, which will then be folded into the MCU.
But is production of X-Men: Dark Phoenix really quite so troubled as is commonly assumed? With the recent announcement that reshoots have begun, now is the perfect time to try and separate fact from exaggeration. Here’s what we know.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix was originally scheduled to release on November 2 this year, but in March Fox made the unexpected decision to push back the release date to February 14, 2019. This served as something of a PR disaster for the studio at the time – not least because there was also news of a far more dramatic delay to Josh Boone’s New Mutants.
It’s generally believed there are two reasons for the delayed release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The first is simply a matter of timing. There had long been rumors that director Simon Kinberg wasn’t comfortable with the November release date, which would see the superhero film compete against Disney’s four-quadrant movie Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Fox has wisely moved the tentpole X-Men film to the Presidents Day weekend, which proved successful for Deadpool and Black Panther.
The second reason, however, left audiences far more concerned. There were reports that both New Mutants and X-Men: Dark Phoenix needed to go undergo substantial additional photography. “It’s normal for all these big movies now,” Kinberg insisted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “We’ll go back when we can get all those actors together, and then it will give me enough time to have it ready and looking perfect.” While casual moviegoers were unconvinced, he does have a point; reshoots are indeed a standard part of the modern film-making process, especially for tentpole blockbusters. What’s more, even extensive reshoots aren’t necessarily a kiss of death – something that’s proven by movies as diverse as Back to the Future, Fatal Attraction, and Rogue One.
While the reshoots for New Mutants seem to be significant (even adding a new character into the mix), there were initial reports that X-Men: Dark Phoenix needed a lot less work. “I think it’s just a few bits and bobs, reshoot-wise,” Sophie Turner told Digital Spy. Then, however rumors began to swirl that they were far more extensive – even running over a three-month period. To give a sense of scale to this, the film’s principal photography in 2017 only lasted three and a half months, so these rumors suggested Fox was essentially starting again from scratch.
Fortunately, the rumors were false. Sources at Fox confirmed that the reshoots would take only two-and-a-half weeks, which is standard for blockbusters of this type, and in line with the lnegth of reshoots for Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther.
There are reports that additional photography will be focused on the film’s third act, with some additional action sequences, a couple of new scenes, and some additional shots for existing scenes. Far from indicating a film in crisis, these reports suggest that X-Men: Dark Phoenix is going through the standard process. So why the long delay between principal photography and the reshoots? And, if the reshoots will only take two-and-a-half weeks, why has the film been pushed back three months?