After the summer release of X-Men Apocalypse and the Deadpool sequel running into issues, 20th Century Fox is finding its superhero franchise meeting obstacles that the X-Men seemingly can’t handle.
Fox has held movie rights to Marvel’s X-Men characters since the 90s, well before Marvel spun off into its own studio and Fox propelled the modern comic book movies that we know today with 2000s X-Men. Now though, after highs, lows and even one reset (2011’s X-Men: First Class), there appears to be a few scratches and claw marks on the franchise that has grossed more than $4 billion.
Apocalypse, directed by Bryan Singer, earned $544 million worldwide, a drastic decrease from the $748 million made by previous entry X-Men: Days of Future Past. In addition to that, stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult have all reached the end of their three-picture contracts. If studio chairman Stacey Snider wants them to return, it’s looking to be a costly matter.
“You’re gauged by the success of the franchise,” says box-office analyst Paul Degarabedian. “This one didn’t engender the love of previous movies. It’s time to go back to the drawing board.”
Other cracks appear to be showing too. Fox’s strong performing Wolverine spinoff series comes to a close with Logan (March 3rd), which is currently set to be the last of the Hugh Jackman-fronted flicks. (The movie’s latest trailer was just released, insiders say it was the most watched spot in the X-Men franchise’s history.) On top of that, Gambit, a solo spinoff movie to star Channing Tatum, failed to begin production this year like planned, it also lost it’s director Dog Liman this past August.
Perhaps the most blindsiding development, Deadpool director Tim Miller pulled out of the sequen in October after feuding with star Ryan Reynolds. (His composer Tom Holkenborg soon followed.) Deadpool was a surprise success, (grossing $782.6 million) in February, so the studio is moving quickly to occupy the sequel’s director chair with John Wick’s David Leitch in talks. In a sign of how much faith Fox has in the Reynolds-starred franchise, they’re already planning Deadpool 3, preparing a filmmaker search for a storyline that will involve another X-team, X-Force, according to sources.
In other areas, the reset button has been pushed. Sources say the flagship series will be adjusted, with Simon Kinberg, runner of the franchise as producer and writer, working on a new script. Singer, directer of four X-Men movies, will not be returning, sources say, but the script is bing written with Lawrence, Fassbender and McAvoy optimistically in thoughts of being involved.
After being on hold as Tatum shot Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, Gambit should soon be back in development with a new filmmaker.
The New Mutants, a spinoff featuring superpowered teens with a connection to the flagship X-Men, looks to be a strong hope for Fox, director Josh boone (The Fault in Our Stars) could have the lights and cameras ready to shoot by spring.