The New Mutants (film)

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The New Mutants
TheNewMutantsPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJosh Boone
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Josh Boone
  • Knate Lee
Based on
Starring
Music byMark Snow
CinematographyPeter Deming
Edited byRobb Sullivan
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Studios
Release date
  • August 28, 2020 (2020-08-28) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

The New Mutants is an upcoming American horror film in the superhero genre, based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name and distributed by 20th Century Studios. It is intended to be an installment of the X-Men film series. The film was directed by Josh Boone from a screenplay by himself and Knate Lee, and stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga. In the film, a group of young mutants held in a secret facility fight to save themselves.

Boone and Lee first began work on the film after Boone completed The Fault in Our Stars (2014). The pair pitched a potential film trilogy to X-Men producer Simon Kinberg, and in May 2015 were officially signed on to the project. Taylor-Joy and Williams were rumored to be cast in March 2016, and were confirmed over a year later when the rest of the cast filled out. Filming took place in Boston, Massachusetts, from July to September 2017, primarily at Medfield State Hospital, with an April 2018 release in mind. The film was then delayed while reshoots were planned and Disney began the process of acquiring production company 20th Century Fox. After the acquisition was completed, Boone returned to work on the film, and it was completed without reshoots in March 2020.

The New Mutants is scheduled to be released in the United States on August 28, 2020. The film was originally intended for release in April 2018, and has had several additional release dates since it was first announced. Originally planned as the first in a trilogy of films, Boone has said that was unlikely to happen due to Disney's Marvel Studios gaining control of the characters.

Premise[edit]

Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.[2]

Cast[edit]

  • Maisie Williams as Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane:
    A Scottish mutant who can turn into a wolf and is struggling to reconcile this with her religious beliefs.[3] Williams was convinced to join the film after discussing the character's religious background with director Josh Boone, who identified with the comic book character due to his own strict religious upbringing.[4]
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Rasputin / Magik:
    A Russian mutant with sorcery powers,[3] she can manifest the Soulsword and use teleportation discs to travel.[3][5] Illyana is the sister of Colossus, a member of the X-Men seen in previous films in the series.[6] Her purple dragon companion from the comic books, Lockheed, also appears in the film.[5]
  • Charlie Heaton as Sam Guthrie / Cannonball: An American mutant who can propel himself into the air, and is invulnerable while doing so.[7]
  • Alice Braga as Cecilia Reyes: A mentor to the group and a medical doctor who can generate protective fields around herself.[8]
  • Blu Hunt as Danielle Moonstar / Mirage:
    A Native American mutant who can create illusions based on the fears and desires of other people.[9] The film includes a love story between Rahne and Dani which Williams felt was a natural extension of the comic book characters having a telepathic connection. Boone described this as "the spine and focus" of the film's "character-driven stuff".[4]
  • Henry Zaga as Roberto da Costa / Sunspot: A Brazilian mutant who can manipulate solar energy.[10]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

After completing work on the 2014 film The Fault in Our Stars for 20th Century Fox, director Josh Boone created a comic book with his childhood best friend Knate Lee using panels from Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz's New Mutants comics to illustrate what a potential film trilogy adapting those comics would be like. The pair had been fans of the characters growing up, with Boone calling the stories "really dark, interesting, and different from the typical X-Men stories that we had read". Boone and Lee took the comic to Simon Kinberg, one of the producers of the X-Men film series, who "really liked it".[11] In May 2015, Fox finalized a deal to have Boone direct The New Mutants, from a script by himself and Lee, with Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner producing. The film would be a standalone spinoff film, expanding the universe of the X-Men franchise.[12] While working on the first draft of the script, Boone sent it and his ideas for the film to Sienkiewicz, who thought Boone "had it figured out" and was not just copying the comics.[13]

Updating the status of the film in March 2016, Kinberg said that Boone and Lee were working on the script, and that, like Deadpool (2016), the film would be different from the core X-Men films, "maybe not as different as Deadpool, but it has its own unique, original voice to it". Kinberg said that the film would have a young adult "vibe", and that there was potential for characters seen in previous films to appear, namely Warpath, Sunspot, and Professor X, who all have ties to the New Mutants in the comics.[14] Also at that time, it was reported that Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor-Joy were being looked at to star in the film as Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane and Illyana Rasputin / Magik, respectively. The rest of the title team was expected to consist of the characters Sam Guthrie / Cannonball, Roberto da Costa / Sunspot, and Danielle Moonstar / Mirage.[15] Sunspot previously appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past, portrayed by Adan Canto, who was not confirmed to be returning for the new film.[16] James McAvoy, who portrayed Professor X in several previous X-Men films, was said to have a significant role in this one, alongside Alexandra Shipp, who was expected to reprise her role of Storm from X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).[15]

In May 2016, Kinberg confirmed that the script included Professor X, and stated his hope for filming to start at the beginning of 2017.[17] By that August, the titular team's roster had expanded to include the character Warlock, while Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber—who worked with Boone writing The Fault in Our Stars—were working on a new draft of the script while Boone and Lee were busy on another project.[11][18] In November, the report of Williams and Taylor-Joy's casting was believed to be accurate, and Nat Wolff was being looked at for the role of Cannonball after working with Boone on The Fault in Our Stars. The character Demon Bear was set as the film's main antagonist, with the project aiming for more of a "'Stephen King meets John Hughes'-style horror movie".[19] Boone soon noted that the Demon Bear was a very personal villain for him as a child, as he "was raised by very religious parents. They were Evangelical Southern Baptists and they believed in the rapture; they believed the devil was real; they believed in demons."[2][11]

Pre-production[edit]

The film had entered pre-production in Boston, Massachusetts, by April 2017, in preparation for filming to begin in that city. Location scouting took place, including at Medfield State Hospital which was previously used as a filming location for Shutter Island (2010).[20] Fox scheduled New Mutants for an April 13, 2018 release.[21] Several weeks later, the studio officially announced the casting of Taylor-Joy and Williams, and was "making serious efforts to find ethnically appropriate actors" for the rest of the cast, searching for South American and Native American actors to respectively play Sunspot and Moonstar. By then, McAvoy was no longer slated to appear in the film;[22] Wolff was no longer in the running to portray Cannonball;[22] and Karen Rosenfelt was producing alongside Kinberg,[6] who ultimately spent much of production focused on making Dark Phoenix (2019).[23]

At the end of May, Henry Zaga was expected to be cast as Sunspot,[2] and Rosario Dawson—who also portrays the Marvel character Claire Temple across the various Marvel Netflix television series—was in talks to join the film as Cecilia Reyes, a mentor to the titular team. It was explained that McAvoy was no longer involved due to Professor X being written out of the script with further drafts, and Shipp's Storm had likewise been written out of the film.[3] Additionally, Boone confirmed that the film would be "a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe. There are no costumes. There are no supervillains. We're trying to do something very, very different."[2] Boone had previously stated that he does not like horror films, except for "classic ones" such as The Exorcist (1973), Rosemary's Baby (1968), and The Shining (1980), but was looking to "pioneer and champion doing prestige versions of horror films" based on his love for horror novels such as King's works.[11] At the end of the month, Charlie Heaton was in talks to portray Cannonball.[7]

Zaga, Dawson, and Heaton were confirmed to have been cast at the start of June,[9][10] and newcomer Blu Hunt was cast as Moonstar after an extensive and challenging international search that prioritized "ethnic authenticity". The character was believed to be central to the Demon Bear storyline that the film focuses on.[9] At the end of that month, Dawson exited the film, and Alice Braga was cast as Reyes in her place.[8] The final shooting script for the film included contributions from Josh Zetumer, Chad and Carey Hayes, and Seth Grahame-Smith, along with a six-person "writer's room" that Fox hired to generate ideas for the film and also "tear apart the script and put it back together". Throughout the development process on the film, the script evolved from the "full horror" film that Boone and Lee initially wanted to make, and which Fox was resistant to, to a compromise version without "excessive blood and scares" and more "young adult"-focused.[23] Boone created storyboards with artist Ashley R. Guillory to plan out all of the shots before filming.[24]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on July 10, 2017, in Boston, under the working title Growing Pains.[20][25][26] Peter Deming served as cinematographer for the film.[25] The majority of the film was shot on location at Medfield State Hospital, where Boone said every crew member had "weird things happen to them". Boone wanted to use practical effects as much as possible to make the film feel like the horror movies that he grew up with. For example, he had actors push on sheets of spandex to create the effect of figures pushing through the walls of a room, a technique originated by Wes Craven. Ten percent of the film used green screen.[27] On the film's set, Boone explained that the script had been re-written following the failure of Apocalypse to be set during modern day rather than in the 1980s, which is why Professor X and Storm were removed from the film's story. Boone felt the film was not largely affected by this change since its confined location and lack of technology meant "it might as well be the 80s in terms of the setting. It didn't change our story very much."[28]

Fox chairman and CEO Stacey Snider elaborated on the film's setting, describing it as a Breakfast Club detention crossed with a Cuckoo's Nest institution. She described the film's genre as "a haunted-house movie with a bunch of hormonal teenagers. We haven't seen a superhero movie whose genre is more like The Shining than 'we're teenagers let's save the world.'"[29] Boone added that he was influenced by A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987);[27] explained that Warlock had been deemed too expensive to portray on the film's budget, but could appear in a sequel;[23][27] and clarified that the Demon Bear would not be the main antagonist of the film, but that character would appear and the film was "very much inspired" by the comic book story arc in which that character is the main villain.[27] Filming ended on September 16, 2017.[30] The film's principal photography was described as "stressful" for Boone, who felt "a bit neutered" during the process due to having to tone down the film from his original "full horror" ideas.[23]

Post-production[edit]

Initial cut[edit]

Robb Sullivan served as editor for the film.[31] Boone delivered a cut of the film to Fox that he was happy with,[32] and it tested as well as initial screenings of Deadpool did with audiences. Three days of additional photography were planned to complete the "YA movie" that Boone, Lee, and Fox had agreed to make. However, following the successful release of the film It (2017), the studio cut the first trailer for The New Mutants to focus on the "scary elements from the film, essentially selling it as a straight-up horror movie". This proved a success, and Fox decided to make the film more like Boone's original vision rather than completing the version that they had been making during production.[23]

Planned reshoots[edit]

In January 2018, the film's release date was pushed back to February 22, 2019.[33] This allowed it to avoid Deadpool 2 (2018), which had just been moved to a date that would have had both films in theaters at the same time in certain markets.[34] It also allowed time for the reshoots required to make the film more frightening.[23][35][36] When asked about this delay the next month, Williams stated that there had been concerns during filming regarding the short turnaround from the end of photography to the previously set release date, especially with the amount of visual effects still needed to finish the film, and so in her opinion the delay was "for the better".[37] The additional photography was soon set for mid-2018. It was expected to include the addition of several new characters who would be appearing throughout the film rather than just making cameo appearances.[32][38]

Fox again delayed the film's release in March 2018, moving it away from the new February 2019 release date for Dark Phoenix to August 2, 2019;[39] by then, the reshoots required for the film were believed to be more extensive than previously considered, with the studio now wanting at least half of the film to be reshot. The studio's focus was on making the film as distinct from the other entries in the series as Deadpool and Logan (2017),[32] while avoiding the film becoming a "flop" like Fantastic Four (2015) which went through similar production issues—industry insiders believed The New Mutants would not end up the same way due to Fox not blaming the issues on Boone as the studio did with Fantastic Four director Josh Trank, and also because the studio was allowing Boone to write and direct the reshoots in order to complete his original vision. In addition to the reshoots changing the tone of the film, they were also reportedly adjusting an antagonist subplot in the film: The New Mutants was originally going to feature the Essex Corporation, which was first teased at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, leading to a post-credits scene featuring the surprise reveal of Jon Hamm as the villain Mister Sinister.[23] However, Fox decided against doing this following the failure of Apocalypse and so the reshoots would include a new post-credits scene introducing Antonio Banderas as Sunspot's father Emmanuel da Costa.[23][40] Kinberg later denied that an actor was ever cast as Mister Sinister when he revealed that the character had been intended to be included in the canceled Gambit film.[41]

Disney acquisition[edit]

Reshoots for the film were expected to begin by the end of September 2018, with Kinberg confirming that they were mostly focused on making the film more frightening after the positive response to the horror-inspired trailer. He added that "audiences really embraced the notion of a superhero movie or a comic book movie that was, in its core, a horror film".[42] Following the acquisition of Fox by Disney in March 2019, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the planned reshoots had still not taken place and there were "none planned so far". The report indicated that further movement on the film appeared to be dependent on Boone,[43][44] and that there was a chance the film may not be released per its Fox release schedule and could instead be released on Disney+ or Hulu, both streaming services owned by Disney.[45] A month later at CinemaCon 2019, Disney confirmed that the film was still planned but indicated that its release date could be adjusted to better fit within Disney's existing schedule.[46] A month after that, the studio pushed the film's release back to April 3, 2020,[47] and the reshoots were set to take place later in 2019. Kinberg explained that the reshoots had taken so long to schedule because the creative team was still deciding what to reshoot, and because of difficulty finding time to get the cast together again due to their commitments to various television series.[48]

In August 2019, Disney was said to be unimpressed with The New Mutants, believing it had "limited box office potential".[49] At the end of the month, this was reported to be the studio's impression of the original cut of the film. Further work had been completed on the film since Disney acquired it to align the film with Boone's original vision, and test screenings with these changes had been positive. In addition to making the film more frightening, these changes included removing connections to the X-Men films. This was reportedly to give Disney's Marvel Studios the option to retroactively include the film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).[50] Sienkiewicz confirmed in December that work on the film had been taking place and that, based on a new trailer he had seen, the style of Marvel Studios appeared to have had an impact on the tone of the film.[51] At the end of the month, Boone said the latest version of the film followed his original vision, a comment that was interpreted by some to mean no reshoots had taken place.[52] In January 2020, Disney's official fan club website D23 described the film as a "new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe", a claim that was quickly picked up by fans and reporters. Soon after the claim was noticed, all mentions of the film were removed from the website. Disney later confirmed that this was an error and the film would not be part of the MCU.[53]

Final cut[edit]

On March 7, 2020, Boone stated that the film was complete.[54] Shortly after, he explained that work on the film had halted when Disney's acquisition of Fox had begun and so no reshoots ever took place on the film, even standard pickups that had already been scheduled during initial production. At that time, around 75 percent of the film had been edited while much of the film's visual effects were also not finished. By the time the acquisition was completed, Boone had moved on and was about to begin work on a new television series, The Stand, based on the Stephen King novel. Before he started production on that series, Disney asked Boone if he would return to finish the film.[5]

The work required to finish the film when Boone returned involved completing the visual effects and editing alongside co-writer Lee, which took several months. Reshoots for the film could have been scheduled at that point, but Boone found that the cast had aged too much since principal photography had taken place.[5] He also felt it did not make sense to add the post-credit scenes of Banderas since it was unlikely that they would be able to make a sequel now that Disney owned the X-Men rights and was integrating the property into the MCU.[40] Describing returning to the film after so long, Boone said, "we hadn't seen it in a year. We did a bunch of things here and there that we hadn't thought about or noticed a year before." The visual effects that still needed to be finished included Illyana's sorceress abilities, including her Soulsword that she materializes, as well as her dragon companion Lockheed.[5] Visual effects for the film were provided by DNEG, Method Studios, and Moving Picture Company, with Olivier Dumont serving as VFX supervisor.[55] After the film was completed, Boone reunited the cast for the first official screening in New York City, after which Williams stated, "The movie is exactly the movie we set out to make."[5]

Disney removed The New Mutants from its release schedule, along with several other films, on March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was looking to reschedule the film's release to a later 2020 date.[56] On May 4, the film was automatically listed for home media pre-order on Amazon based on the film's previous April 2020 release date. Amazon took the listing down hours later after it had been widely reported on. At that time, the film was still expected to receive a theatrical release rather than be released straight-to-streaming as other films had been during the pandemic.[57] Shortly after, Disney scheduled the film for release on August 28, 2020.[58]

Music[edit]

Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis were confirmed in December 2017 to be composing the score for the film, having worked with Boone on his previous films.[59] In May 2018, Marilyn Manson announced that his cover of the song "Cry Little Sister"—originally written for the film The Lost Boys (1987) by Gerard McMahon—which Manson debuted during his Heaven Upside Down tour, had been recorded specifically for the New Mutants soundtrack.[60][61] In February 2020, Mark Snow was revealed to have composed the score for the final version of the film, though additional music composed by Walcott and Mogis was still set to be used in the soundtrack.[62]

Marketing[edit]

The first trailer for the film was released in October 2017, on Friday the 13th,[63] with a horror focus inspired by the success of the film It, which had been released the month before.[23] Sara Vilkomerson of Entertainment Weekly felt that trailer delivered on Boone's promise of a different type of X-Men film, and was "creepy". Vilkomerson also noted the trailer's use of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2";[64] the title treatment for the film introduced in the trailer evokes the treatment used for that song.[27] Alex McLevy, writing for The A.V. Club, also felt that Boone had delivered on his promise of a "straight-up horror film", and said, "Congrats to this creative team for trying something different with the superhero genre."[65] Writing for /Film, Hoai-Tran Bui said the film looked like a bottle episode for the X-Men franchise, and noted that telling a standalone story led to success for Deadpool. Bui also compared the trailer's tone to Stranger Things (in which Heaton also stars as Jonathan Byers), and Braga's performance as Reyes to Nurse Ratched.[66] Boone, Lee, Braga, Zaga, and Sienkiewicz promoted the film at a 2017 Comic Con Experience panel, where they also talked about their plans for future films.[13]

A new trailer, incorporating the changes made to the film following Disney's acquisition of Fox, was released on January 6, 2020.[67] Boone sent the trailer to Sienkiewicz in December 2019, and the comic book artist praised it as "phenomenal". He stated that the horror elements of the film were still present in the trailer, but that it now also appeared to have been influenced by the style of Disney's Marvel Studios who he said had appeared to give the latest version of the film "the blessings of Marvel".[51] Aja Romano of Vox also compared the horror elements of this trailer to Stranger Things, and felt the film looked like "highly entertaining, if predictable, fun".[68] io9's Charles Pulliam-Moore praised the more comic-accurate superhero abilities included in the new trailer, especially Magik's, and felt that the less superhero-like elements could be what saves the film from being a "flop" like Dark Phoenix.[69] Writing about the trailer for Forbes, Scott Mendelson said the film "seems to be pretty similar in content and tone to what was always promised", and discussed its interesting position as "just a movie" now that the X-Men franchise had ended and future New Mutants films were unlikely after Marvel Studios took control of mutant-based films.[70]

Weeks before the film's then-set April 2020 release date, Graeme McMillan of The Hollywood Reporter discussed several television spots released for the film. He stated that the first two, titled "Awaken" and "Escape", followed the tone and style of the previous trailers, while the third one, "Attitude", presented the film more like a traditional superhero film, focusing on action, quips, and superpowers. McMillan felt this was an abrupt shift in marketing given "Attitude" was released just one week after the other two spots and questioned whether the change in tone was to align the marketing to the film or just an attempt to boost interest in the film by reminding audiences of other popular superhero films.[71]

Release[edit]

The New Mutants is scheduled to be released in the United States on August 28, 2020.[58] It was originally set to be released on April 13, 2018,[21] before being delayed to February 22, 2019, to avoid Deadpool 2,[39] and then to August 2, 2019, to avoid Dark Phoenix.[33] It was delayed to April 3, 2020, by Disney after that studio acquired Fox,[47] and then removed from Disney's schedule in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[56] Disney rescheduled the film for August 28, 2020 two months later.[58] The various delays have led to several online commentators referring to the film as "cursed" and lamenting its bad luck.[56][72][73]

Future[edit]

Boone and Lee originally pitched the film to Kinberg as the first in a trilogy.[11] In October 2017, Boone said that the characters Warlock and Karma would appear in the sequels, which he wanted to be "their own distinct kind of horror movies. [The first film] is certainly the 'rubber-reality' supernatural horror movie. The next one will be a completely different kind of horror movie. Our take was just go examine the horror genre through comic book movies and make each one its own distinct sort of horror film. Drawing from the big events that we love in the comics." He added that connections to the wider X-Men universe could be explored more in future films.[27] Boone and Lee revealed in December 2017 that they were interested in filming the first sequel in Brazil and that Sunspot's father Emmanuel da Costa would play a role in the franchise.[13]

In March 2019, Disney officially acquired Fox and gained the film rights to several Marvel Comics characters for Marvel Studios, including the New Mutants.[74][75] The Marvel-based films that Fox had been developing were placed "on hold".[76] In March 2020, Boone stated that it was unlikely that a sequel to The New Mutants could be made now that X-Men characters were being integrated into Marvel Studios' MCU, though he still hoped that The New Mutants would be successful enough to allow a sequel to be made. Explaining his plans for the first sequel, and confirming some previously known details, Boone stated that the film would have been set in Brazil and included Antonio Banderas as Emmanuel da Costa. Karma was to be introduced as the villain of the sequel but would have joined the New Mutants by the end of the film alongside Warlock. Boone added that Emmanuel da Costa's connections to the Hellfire Club would have been explored and said the overall tone of the sequel would still have been inspired by Claremont and Sienkiewicz's run.[40]

References[edit]

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