After grossing around $65 million at the U.S. box office, “Dark Phoenix” is bound to go down as one of the biggest flops of 2019. Not only did “Dark Phoenix” fail to outgross, in its entire run, the opening weekends of seven previous “X-Men” movies, but the movie’s performance was such a disappointment that Disney CEO Bob Iger credited it as the primary reason the studio lost $170 million in the second quarter of the year. A new report from Variety reveals the box office flops of “Dark Phoenix” and other Fox films “Stuber,” “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” etc. acquired by Disney after the $71.3 billion merger has caused Disney to completely retool the upcoming Fox slate.
One of the most revealing tidbits comes from rival studio executives, who told Variety that Disney cut at least $50 million worth from Fox marketing and development. While “Dark Phoenix” did not get support from critics IndieWire’s senior film critic David Ehlrich wrote the film has no reason to exist in a D review, insiders tell Variety that Disney did not internally support the movie either.
As Variety reports: “Disney largely ignored ‘Dark Phoenix’ after it acquired 20th Century in March, according to sources. The marketing team familiar with the film was laid off, and Disney did not spend as aggressively to promote the release. One insider says that the film's lone premiere in Los Angeles was done with an eye to controlling costs — a bit of economizing that annoyed the film's creative team.”
“Dark Phoenix” opened in June to just $32 million and then fell 72.6% in its second weekend with a gross of just $9 million, the biggest second weekend decline in history for a comic book film. Addressing investors earlier this month, Iger called out the lackluster performance of the Fox movies. “The Fox studio performance was well below where it had been and well below where we'd hoped it would be when we made the acquisition,” he said. Additional Fox films set for release through 2020 under Disney include “Ford v. Ferrari,” Steven Spielberg's “West Side Story,” the Amy Adams thriller “Woman in the Window,” and Brad Pitt's astronaut drama “Ad Astra.” The latter opens September 20 after a starry world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
IndieWire has reached out to Disney for further comment.
Disney is apparently concerned over the upcoming release of Jojo Rabbit, the latest from Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi. This is one of the projects Disney inherited from Fox in the $71.3 billion merger that went into effect back in March. While things haven't gone according to plan so far, this project was viewed as one of the bright spots on Fox's slate. However, the Mouse House is said to be having second thoughts, as certain executives within the studio's ranks allegedly feel the movie may be too edgy for their typical audience.
Jojo Rabbit has been gaining a good deal of attention ever since the project was announced. And with good reason. Not just because it's the first movie Taika Waititi is making since his blockbuster breakout Thor: Ragnarok, but because of the content of his latest. The movie has been billed as an "anti-hate satire," which sees Waititi playing an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, who is a lonely German boy's friend during World War II. Needless to say, that doesn't fit the typical Disney brand. Not by a long shot.
According to a new report, a recent screening held for executives didn't go over too well. One unnamed executive is said to have grown "audibly uncomfortable, worrying aloud that the material would alienate Disney fans." Even though this movie is produced by Fox Searchlight, a division that has an incredible track record with indie movies that has racked up a ton of awards over the years, it's now housed under the larger Disney umbrella. Disney has a brand to maintain. A very successful brand at that, and it's understandable that certain executives may be nervous about expanding that strategy to include titles like Jojo Rabbit.
Related: Taika Waititi Is Hitler in New Jojo Rabbit Photo
The issues here are numerous and wide-ranging in scope. Fox Searchlight is one of the last true indie movie studios in Hollywood. If Disney starts getting cold feet when it comes to projects like this, creators like Taika Waititi, whom Disney wants to work with on major blockbusters, are likely going to be very unhappy. Not to mention, from an artistic output standpoint, moviegoers would be losing out on untold possible cinematic treasures that might not fit the typical Disney brand. In short, it's complicated.
Disney recently took their foot off the gas of a majority of Fox's production slate that was in the works prior to the merger. Disney has seen Fox releases bomb one after another since taking over the studio and they're certainly not going to allow that to continue. In the case of Jojo Rabbit, they have a possible high-profile indie hit that is viewed as a major awards season contender. Regardless of branding, if the movie does go on to find success, it could go a long way in calming Disney's worries in the future. Jojo Rabbit is set to arrive in theaters on October 18. This news comes to us via Variety.
While the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises are already on Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige’s mind, 20th Century Fox’s other licensed Marvel properties are facing more uncertain futures now that Disney owns them all. For example, last week a report indicated that executives were grappling with how to maintain Deadpool‘s hard R rating while also including the popular character in the decidedly PG-13 Avengers films. And then there’s the X-Men spin-off The New Mutants, which has been delayed since 2018.
According to Variety, the higher-ups at Disney are “optimistic” that Feige and his repeatedly successful team will have no trouble resuscitating the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises for the MCU. The New Mutants, however, is another matter entirely. Apparently, they are “unimpressed” with what they’ve seen of the superhero-derived movie “with a haunted-house vibe.” Specifically and unsurprisingly, they “[believe] it has limited box office potential.”
So, what then for director Josh Boone’s mutant horror fiasco with Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, and Charlie Heaton? Maybe it will wind up a streaming-only release over a Disney+, just as many suspected it would become over at Hulu before the Disney/Fox merger was approved. Then again, much like Blumhouse’s canceled The Hunt, The New Mutants may never see the light of day at all. Only time will tell.
Disney’s first quarter with 20th Century Fox was hardly a success, as major box office flops like “Dark Phoenix” lost the company $170 million. A new report from Variety, entitled “Fox Feels the Pressure From Disney As Film Flops Mount,” reveals how Disney is moving ahead on the Fox film projects it acquired after the $71.3 billion deal. The merger means Disney now owns and releases films from indie powerhouse Fox Searchlight Pictures. First out of the gate this fall from the 25-year-old indie studio is Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit.” The Nazi Germany-set comedy-drama is billed as an “anti-hate satire” and features Waititi playing an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, hardly the content associated with Disney’s family-friendly brand.
According to Variety, the Nazi subject matter at the heart of “Jojo Rabbit” is worrying some Disney executives. Variety’s report reads: “The scathing takedown of Nazism may, however, prove a little too edgy for Disney brass accustomed to producing movies suitable for parents and kids. Searchlight has started to screen the film for its new parent company. Halfway through one recent viewing one executive grew audibly uncomfortable, worrying aloud that the material would alienate Disney fans.”
Disney and Waititi have a great relationship after the New Zealand filmmaker worked on the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry “Thor: Ragnarok,” which grossed $854 million worldwide. Waititi was clearly a beloved figure by Disney as Marvel announced at Comic-Con the director would return to helm the November 2021 sequel “Thor: Love and Thunder.” “Jojo Rabbit” was developed and produced at Fox Searchlight before the Disney merger and is now one of the titles Disney is releasing this fall.
One reason Waititi’s Nazi satire might ease Disney executives’ fears is that it’s a major awards hopeful. “Jojo Rabbit” will world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, a launching pad for Oscar films, and is one of Fox Searchlight’s potential fall awards contenders alongside “Lucy in the Sky” and “A Hidden Life.” Searchlight has a long history of dominating the Oscars, winning Best Picture for “The Shape of Water” in 2018 and scoring 10 Oscar nominations for “The Favourite” earlier this year. Acquiring Fox Searchlight has given Disney a big break into Oscar season. Should “Jojo Rabbit” deliver with Oscar voters, the subject matter might be easier for the Mouse House to swallow. More importantly, a “Jojo Rabbit” success will prove to Disney that edgy, left-of-center concepts are still profitable on the indie level.
“Jojo Rabbit” opens in theaters nationwide October 18.
Disney+ not only boasts the parent company’s already impressive catalog but new serialized programming from the likes of Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios. The thing is, despite the fact that the Mouse’s highest corporate entity oversees these and many other offshoots, this doesn’t mean that things are going to be uniform. Such is the case for Marvel Studios and Marvel Television, which are two entirely different entities. Kevin Feige manages the former, which constitutes the MCU, while Jeph Loeb runs the latter, which includes Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Netflix shows and more.
They aren’t the same thing. So, while Feige and company are spearheading new Disney+ shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and WandaVision, Loeb and his group are doing their own thing. As the Marvel TV head told Deadline in a new interview, however, they will be producing their own content for the new streaming service. “Marvel Television will be doing shows with Disney+, we just haven’t announced what we’re going to do there,” he said. Asked about when those shows would be announced, he added, “When we’re ready.”
If that isn’t confusing enough, though, don’t forget that Marvel TV has many, many other non-Marvel Studios irons in the fire, like Hulu’s Runaways and Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger. There’s also the company’s upcoming slate of live-action and animated shows, which includes the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off Ghostrider and titles based on Howard the Duck, M.O.D.O.K, Hit-Monkey and Tigra and Dazzler. Together, this latter batch will come together to form The Offenders.
Aladdin 2 talks are currently happening at Disney. The studio, over the past handful of years, has been having a tremendous amount of financial success remaking some of their most beloved animated classics. This year, that has proved to be especially true. Now, producer Dan Lin reveals that a sequel to this year's Aladdin remake is very much in the cards.
Aladdin is making its way to home video later this month. Dan Lin was recently being interviewed in honor of the forthcoming release and was asked about the seemingly inevitable sequel. Lin wasn't particularly cagey. While the producer wouldn't dive into specifics, he was very clear about this being a project Disney is looking into. Here's what he had to say about it.
"We have now. We certainly when we first made the movie wanted to just make the best movie we could and let audiences tell us if they wanted to see more. And I would say resoundingly audiences want to see more. They've watched this movie multiple times. We have lots of fan letters about people who really go back and they bring their friends and bring their family. And so we feel like there's more story to tell.
We are going to treat it the same way we treat the original Aladdin movie and not going to do a shot by shot remake of anything that's been done before. We're really looking at what's been done before in the past and the home video, and there's just more story to tell with the underlying materials. So without giving away too much, we are certainly exploring where we can go with this franchise."
As Dan Lin alludes to, while no sequel to the original animated Aladdin was released theatrically, the franchise expanded elsewhere. Two direct-to-video sequels, 1994's Return of Jafar and 1996's Aladdin and the King of Thieves were produced. Plus, there was the relatively short-lived animated series. It's possible that Disney could find a meaty enough story for a sequel in there somewhere.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin went on to become an unexpectedly huge hit. The marketing campaign was pretty rocky, with many concerned over Will Smith's portrayal as Genie. However, the movie went on to earn $1.03 billion at the global box office, making it one of the biggest hits of 2019. This, despite the fact that many critics weren't buying what Disney was selling, as the remake holds just a 57 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Yet, the audience responded and, at the end of the day, that's what matters. The Lion King had a very similar fate and has grossed more than $1.3 billion so far. The real question here would be getting Will Smith back on board to reprise his role as Genie. Smith is busy as ever and that could prove tricky. It's likely Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott would return as Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively. We'll be sure to keep you posted as further details on the possible project are made available. This news comes to us via Comicbook.com.