Dark Phoenix (film)

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Dark Phoenix
Directed by Simon Kinberg
Produced by
Written by Simon Kinberg
Based on
Starring
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Edited by Lee Smith[1]
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 14, 2019 (2019-02-14) (United States)
Country United States
Language English

Dark Phoenix is an upcoming American superhero film based on Marvel Comics' X-Men characters, distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is intended to be the twelfth installment in the X-Men film series, and the beginning of a new trilogy. The film is written and directed by Simon Kinberg, and stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, and Jessica Chastain. In Dark Phoenix, the X-Men must face the full power of the Phoenix after a mission to space goes wrong.

After X-Men: Days of Future Past erased the events of X-Men: The Last Stand from the series' timeline, Kinberg expressed interest in a new, more faithful adaptation of Chris Claremont and John Byrne's "The Dark Phoenix Saga" in a future film than his previous attempt with The Last Stand, which was not well received. The new adaptation was confirmed as a follow-up to X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016. Kinberg signed on to make his directorial debut in June 2017, when the majority of the cast was set to return from Apocalypse. Filming began later that month in Montreal, and was completed in October 2017, though reshoots are planned for the end of 2018.

Dark Phoenix is scheduled to be released in the United States on February 14, 2019.

Premise[edit]

In 1992, nearly a decade after the events of X-Men: Apocalypse, the X-Men are national heroes going on increasingly risky missions. When a solar flare hits them during a rescue mission in space, Jean Grey loses control of her abilities and unleashes the Phoenix.[2]

Cast[edit]

Additionally, Olivia Munn reprises her role of Psylocke,[13] while Daniel Cudmore—who previously portrayed Colossus in the franchise—and Lamar Johnson appear in undisclosed roles.[14][9]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

After joining the 2003 film X2, writer Zak Penn convinced director Bryan Singer not to adapt the Marvel Comics' storyline "The Dark Phoenix Saga" for the film, believing it was "too soon to go into the Phoenix story and it was too soon to get cosmic."[15] The character of Jean Grey / Phoenix was instead explored "subtly", with the intention of the full story being adapted in the next film instead.[16][15] Singer did not return to direct the sequel, X-Men: The Last Stand, which was written by Penn and Simon Kinberg. They chose to adapt the "Dark Phoenix Saga" as only one of the film's "parallel storylines", with an executive at 20th Century Fox suggesting that the "Gifted" storyline also be in that film.[16] This version of the story was not well received by fans and critics. Kinberg stated that he and Penn were ultimately unhappy with how the adaptation turned out as well.[17]

After the timeline of the X-Men franchise was reset with the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past, it was noted that a new adaptation of the "Dark Phoenix Saga" could be made that ignores the events of The Last Stand. Kinberg and Singer both expressed interest in this, and hinted that 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse would set up elements for such a retelling. Apocalypse introduces Sophie Turner as a young Jean Grey, and begins exploring "how powerful she is".[17] By April 2016, the sequel to Apocalypse was believed to indeed re-adapt "The Dark Phoenix Saga".[18] In May 2016, Kinberg said that the next X-Men film after Apocalypse would be set in the 1990s, advancing a decade as had been done for the previous few X-Men films.[19] He also noted that Apocalypse had introduced younger versions of several characters from the original X-Men films to give them a new origin story—including Storm, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Jean Grey—with the intention of then exploring them in their own trilogy of films. He added that he also hoped to see the cast of the previous trilogy of films return, namely James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme / Mystique.[20]

In July, Kinberg said he would begin writing the next mainline X-Men film "real soon".[21] That November, Fox was said to be pressing "the reset button" on the franchise due to the financial and critical underperformance of Apocalypse, with the franchise being reconfigured and Singer said to not be returning to direct the next film. McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult's contracts from the previous trilogy had ended, but Kinberg was optimistically writing the new script with them in mind.[22] It was rumored in February 2017 that the next film would be titled X-Men: Supernova, and would begin filming that June.[23] Also in February, Turner confirmed that she would return for the film.[24] Kinberg was believed to be interested in making his directorial debut with the film,[25] and was described as the top contender for the job, with interest from Fox as well. The studio was also looking to negotiate new deals with Lawrence, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Hoult to return.[26] By the end of the month, Kinberg described reports that he may direct the film as "premature", but added that if he were to direct, he would not be daunted by the scale of the film due to his experience writing and producing many of the other X-Men films. He also reiterated that he would adapt "The Dark Phoenix Saga" differently to how he did for The Last Stand if given another opportunity to do so.[27]

Pre-production[edit]

Kinberg said at the start of March 2017 that he and producer Hutch Parker had begun early prep on the film, and that Supernova was just a code name they had been using for the sequel. He said that they had begun discussing the story for the film during post-production on Apocalypse, and that they wanted to do "something bold and radical and expand the universe in the same way that Logan feels bold and radical and certainly Deadpool does as well."[28] In pitching the film to the studio, Kinberg used real world imagery such as disaster footage or lightning strikes, and focused on an organic and relevant approach as a response to criticisms of Apocalypse's heightened reality.[29] Fox officially titled the film Dark Phoenix in April, and gave it a release date of November 2, 2018.[30] Fassbender indicated in May that he would be returning for the film,[31] and Parker soon hinted that a young version of the character Rogue could appear, and that the film could possibly explore the cosmic elements of the "Dark Phoenix" storyline.[32][33]

In June 2017, the Shi'ar alien race was rumored to be featured in the film,[34] and Angelina Jolie was being looked at for a role, though she was not expected to accept the part. Jessica Chastain was also potentially being looked at for the same character.[35] Fox confirmed that Kinberg would direct the film, and that Lawrence, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Hoult had all signed on to return for one more film. In addition to Turner, Apocalypse actors Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee were also confirmed to be returning, while producers for the film were revealed to be Kinberg, Parker, and Lauren Shuler Donner. At that time, Chastain was in talks to join the cast as Shi'ar Empress Lilandra, the film's villain. The film's script was said to "hew closer" to the original "Dark Phoenix Saga" by Chris Claremont and John Byrne than The Last Stand did.[36][3] It was later revealed that the character Dazzler would be appearing in the film, after being hinted at in a scene that was eventually deleted from Apocalypse.[37] Singer was originally announced as being a producer on the film, but following allegations of sexual abuse against Singer, Kinberg stated that he was not involved in the film and his name would not be in the film's credits.[8]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on June 28, 2017, in Montreal,[3][38] under the working title Teen Spirit.[39] Mauro Fiore served as cinematographer.[40] Filming primarily took place at MELS Studios.[41] Before the end of the month, Evan Peters was set to reprise his role as "audience favorite" character Quicksilver from the previous films, and Lamar Johnson joined the cast in an unspecified role.[9] At the start of August, Chastain confirmed her involvement in the film;[11] she was interested in the story, after turning down roles in other superhero films, due to its focus on female characters.[42] Kinberg said he wanted the film to be "human" and emotional like previous X-Men films, and that he was looking to ground the "Dark Phoenix Saga" story for his adaptation "so it’s not too intergalactic".[43] He later clarified that the film would still include alien characters as in the comic storyline, and that it would tonally be less operatic than previous X-Men films which he hoped would make it more relatable for audiences.[44] By September, Daniel Cudmore had confirmed that he would be appearing in the film, but could not confirm whether he would be reprising his role of Colossus from previous films in the franchise.[14] Chastain revealed that she was not actually playing Lilandra,[45] while Olivia Munn confirmed that she would be reprising her role of Psylocke in the film.[13] Filming was completed in Montreal on October 14, 2017.[38][46]

Post-production[edit]

In December 2017, Kinberg revealed that the film would be in post-production for almost a year, longer than usual for the series, because he wanted to take the time to get the visual effects right by focusing on the "nuance" of the effects rather than the scale.[47] He also explained that he "felt in his gut" that this was the story that he needed to tell once Singer left the franchise, and that his vision for the film was "so clear in my head, emotionally and visually, that it would have killed me to hand this to somebody else to direct". The film was described as being the most sinister and somber of the franchise, with McAvoy finding it to be the most emotional of the X-Men films he had worked on. It becomes a "fight for Jean’s soul" and features a twist that was intended to have significant repercussions on the entire franchise.[2] Lawrence revealed that she had worked to convince Kinberg to direct the film, and had promised to return for it if he did so, despite her dislike of the make-up required to portray her character.[48] It was also revealed then that the film would be introducing a version of the island Genosha, adapted to the film as a mutant refuge led by Magneto,[4] and that it would focus on the female characters more so than previous films in the series, particularly Jean Grey as both the hero and villain of the film, and Chastain's character with whom Grey has a complex relationship.[42]

Fox delayed the film's release in March 2018, pushing it back to February 14, 2019.[49] This was because Fox and Kinberg wanted to schedule some routine reshoots for the film after receiving feedback from audiences during a test screening, but were not able to get all of the necessary cast members together until August or September 2018, which would not leave enough time to complete post-production work such as visual effects for the additional footage before the November 2018 release date.[50] Specifically, Kinberg was looking to rework the third act of the film, and would re-write part of the script ahead of the reshoots. With post-production already underway, the film was believed to have been under-budget, while the planned reshoots would cost less than $10 million. Additionally, Kinberg and the studio had been looking to change the film's release date for "some time" to avoid competing with the Christmas-oriented film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The new February release date was noted as having the film release away from any other major studio films, while placing it on President's Day weekend which proved to be successful for Deadpool and Marvel's Black Panther.[51] Addressing the reshoots, Kinberg confirmed the scheduling delays, and described the photography as a "normal" part of the film's creation that would allow him "enough time to have it ready and looking perfect".[52]

At the end of April, a Fox panel at the 2018 CinemaCon revealed the first logo for the film. It did not include "X-Men" in the title, but included a circle around the 'X' in Dark Phoenix which was compared to the X-Files logo.[53] By that August, the reshoots were expected to take place in Montreal over two-and-a-half weeks.[54] The reshoots were set to take place at MTL Grandé studios since MELS Studios was reserved for another production during the reshoot period.[41]

Music[edit]

Evan Peters stated in January 2018 that Hans Zimmer was composing the score for the film,[55] despite Zimmer having said in March 2016 that he would not score another superhero film following his experience working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[56]

Release[edit]

Dark Phoenix is scheduled for release in the United States on February 14, 2019.[49] It was previously set to be released on November 2, 2018.[30]

Future[edit]

Kinberg said in May 2016 that he hoped Dark Phoenix would be the first in a new trilogy of films focusing on the younger versions of the original X-Men characters.[20] After the proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney was announced in December 2017, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the X-Men would be integrated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe under Disney.[57]

References[edit]

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