Does it? When it was originally announced in 2015, there was excitement about a new and different chapter in the Fox X-Men cinematic universe. Directed by The Fault In Our Stars’ Josh Boone and featuring a slate of up and coming young actors, like Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, the film was expected to be a hit when it was originally expected to drop, in 2018. However, now we’re in 2020 and…we have a couple of trailers and teasers, but no actual film for the masses.
New Mutants is the first spin-out team from the X-Men, created by Chris Claremont and artist Bob McLeod in 1982. They were teenage mutant superheroes and students at Professor Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, kind of the replacements for the original X-Men team, who were now adults. This roster featured the likes of Wolfsbane, Cannonball, and Mirage fighting a variety of villains. While the X-Men is more of a superhero coming-of-age story in its earlier points, the New Mutants were sci-fi/fantasy-based, thanks to villains like Demon Bear, journeying to places like Asgard, and teammates like Magik, who later becomes the Sorcerer Supreme.
This all served as inspiration for Boone’s vision of the film. The director’s aim was for a horror movie built around the Demon Bear saga, a game-changing arc for this series. The movie’s official description for the past couple of years was, “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,” which honestly screams “escape this house” type of horror is on its way. The cast features the aforementioned Williams, Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton, and Split’s Anna Taylor-Joy. Development started in 2016, and filming began the summer of 2017 in Massachusetts, with an original release date of April 13, 2018.
However, in January 2018, it got delayed to Feb. 2019 for reshoots, since the original shoot and release timeline called for a faster turnaround. From there, two months later, the film’s release was pushed to August 2019 because the reshoots were going to be more extensive and the studio wanted it to be more distinctive like Logan and not a flop like Fantastic Four (choose one). Then, Disney’s purchase of Fox was completed in March 2019. At this point, this project’s post-production was halted with 75% of the movie done, and still expected in August, with no reshoots done. After seeing the original cut, Disney allegedly wasn’t impressed with its box office potential. Then again, they saw it at an incomplete stage and still moved forward with the project. From there, New Mutants was now expected on April 3, 2020, and in March 2020, Boone confirmed the film was completed, with no reshoots.
Now, thanks to COVID-19, it was kicked down the road again, but not without any issues. On May 4th, the film was automatically listed for home media pre-order on Amazon because of the film’s previous April 2020 release date. Amazon took the listing down hours later after it had been widely reported on and Disney later scheduled it for August 28, 2020, in theaters. Which is a damned shame, because this movie might be good…if it exists.
This is still the question at hand, mainly because the public has not seen it. Sure, there have been trailers and pics from the set, but the real deal has yet to be delivered on some sort of screen. Honestly, it’d be a great practical joke, but a weird and lengthy one. Plus, there is too much evidence of actual work taking place to think it doesn’t exist. Nonetheless, the question pivots to will anyone watch?
The core X-Men series had the potential to end on a high note after X-Men: Days of Future Past and Logan, but both Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix were piles of shit, with some solid parts (#justiceforDazzler), so there’s probably still a bad taste in people’s mouths. This movie is supposed to close the entire Fox X-Men era, the longest-lasting cinematic universe around, for better or worse. The constant shuffling has killed the majority of its buzz. As well, Mutants probably cost less than any of the previous four films, which averaged production costs of $178 million, so it did not need to be a summer blockbuster by any measure.
Now for the most obvious question: why isn’t it on Disney+ already? They have the streaming platform and will probably hit a dearth of new content soon because of COVID-19 stopping production on several projects like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There may be the expectation of a release in theaters since it was a project on a theater release schedule for Fox when the Fox-Disney sale went through. As well, there is the HBO-Fox deal, which is probably additional red tape holding the film from landing on Disney’s flagship streaming platform, as it did with Artemis Fowl recently.
So, here’s an idea: drop it on video on demand. Get it to the people as soon as possible, so they can watch the movie, critique it, and build the buzz. Purchases generate money, and at the end of the day, that’s an important piece to the puzzle. Also, it gets the clock running on when it will be expected on streaming; which leads to the next part: Disney should cut a deal with HBO to get the film on Disney+, as soon as it’s pay-per-view run is done. Having any sort of exclusivity would drive views towards the property on Disney+, and even though the streaming service isn’t hurting for subscribers, cultivating a base of exclusive content doesn’t hurt.
Listen, at this point, the existence of this film is a series of Instagram posts, a couple of preview trailers, and articles analyzing those two parts against the source material. We’ll hopefully get details when some of the cast and Boone do a panel for Comic-Con At Home. Sooner or later, this movie has to be delivered to the masses, if only to somehow generate any money. Supposedly, we may be getting it soon, but I’ll believe it when I’m sitting on my couch watching it. So, while we wait, here’s the latest trailer, to tide you over. Maybe we’ll finally get some clarity soon, but kicking it down the road again would not be a surprise.