X-Men Dark Phoenix was supposed to be the last hurrah for the Fox X-Men series. It was supposed to be the culmination of 20 years of Fox X-Men, a sending off to the new characters of X-Men before the sale of the studio to Disney.
Well, long story short the movie didn't go as planned, with the lowest grossing first weekend for any X-Men movie. The first X- Men movie to not top the box office during its first weekend. The movie was both panned by critics and fans and most of the fans didn't even bother to show up to the theatre.
The poster for X-Men Dark Phoenix.SOURCE: Wikipedia
There has been much finger-pointing in the aftermath of the projected $100-120 million loss the movie will have to incur and one of those fingers pointed was the involvement of James Cameron in the release schedule. Alita The Batlle Angel has been blamed for the changing dates of the movie and eventual demise at the box office.
Yes, the changing dates didn't help but there was one glaring problem with this whole debacle, the studio. Shooting for the 'Dark Phoenix' started way before there were talks of a merger between Disney and Fox. The studio was behind the movie fully because X-Men is one of the most prized possession for Fox. Then the merger happened and seeds of doubt were put in the Fox hierarchy's mind.
Disney's merger with Fox.SOURCE: A Place to Hang Your Cape
According to reports Dark Phoenix was supposed to be 2 movies, with director Simon Kinberg writing two scripts for the films. Dark Phoenix saga is one of the most beloved comic books series and Simon wanted to do the character justice by working his way through character development and proper pacing.
Well, that is not what happened in real life, Fox brass got worried after the whole X-Men Apocalypse debacle, rotten score in rotten tomatoes and grossing way below expectations. The studio wanted to play it safe, they asked the director to combine the two movies and make only one. According to reports Simon was very receptive to the suggestion and wrote just one script for a single movie.
Sophie Turner as the Dark Phoenix in X-Men.SOURCE: Screen Rant
The problem also arose with 'Jean Grey' after the filming was completed, during test screenings, the audience had problems connecting with Jean. If reports were to be believed then there was a scene in the original cut of the movie where 'Jean Grey' dies. Audiences didn't like this scene and Simon was asked to reshoot the ending which caused problems in the first act, so he had to shoot the first act again with adjustments. In trying to playing it safe Fox ballooned the budget of the movie to $200 million.
This was not the first time Fox has interfered with a director's vision by meddling in the finished product. 'Fantastic Four' reboot was also a victim of the studio wanting one thing and the director wanting something other. Josh Trank was neutered by the end of the movie and his film was reshot by a committee. Josh Trank himself trashed the movie before it came out and we all know what happened to the Fantastic Four reboot at the box office.
Josh Trank's since deleted tweet blasting Fantastic Four before its release.SOURCE: Zap2It
Meddling with a director's idea of a movie is a very dangerous thing, if you hire a director, do your due diligence and hire someone you can get behind. Ridley Scott and the original 'Blade Runner' is the perfect example as to what happens when a director gets to enact his version of the movie. Ridley shot the final and the most iconic scene in the movie 20 minutes before the studio came to pull the plug on the movie. Now, it is one of the most iconic movies ever made.
If a director has a vision for two movies, and he beings production thinking he will get to make two movies then the studio wants to make it into a single movie, you get the mess that is Dark Phoenix.
Watch: The trailer for X-Men Dark Phoenix
The whole movie felt rushed and there was no character development, 'Professor X' felt like he regressed as a character and at no point, there was a feeling of sympathy towards Jean as a vulnerable character. Maybe the plot points would have worked if the director was allowed to enact his vision of the events.
Studio meddling caused the rushed version of the movie that appeared on screen throughout the world, nobody was able to connect and the last Fox X-Men movie went silently into the night. Fox changed their minds and chose to make only one movie instead of the director's vision of two and they got what they deserved at the box office.