After all of the hoopla, spectacle, and growing pains, The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox have merged, as expected. Among all of the questions and concerns about the various properties that are now shared between these united parties, the status of director Josh Boone’s The New Mutants is one that keeps being raised by fans and cast members alike. You could sense the frustration in recent remarks made by one of the film’s stars, and despite the further reports that none of the reshoots planned to revise The New Mutants seem to have taken place, the film still has a release date set for August 2nd, but the question remains: Where will it be housed?
Now unless those reshoots are going to happen at some point in the near future, it feels like we’re going to be told one of two things in the near future. It looks like either The New Mutants will shift its release date yet again, or if the persistent rumors have anything to say, the project might find itself shipped off to a streaming service for distribution.
But is that the best way to release this film, which has been in the works for a couple of years now? Either prospect seems in the cards, so why don’t we lay down the case for either a theatrical or streaming release of The New Mutants? Before we get too far into the weeds though, let’s discuss something that might effect this decision to an important degree, as it will more than likely factor into the decision ahead.
What May Be The Deciding Factor
One event may determine just what happens to The New Mutants, in terms of its release. That happening is none other than this summer’s release of Dark Phoenix. Much like The New Mutants, director Simon Kinberg’s swan song for Professor Xavier and his school of gifted youngsters has been dancing around the release calendar before and during the Disney/Fox merger. If their initial release dates had stuck, we would have seen The New Mutants released last April, with Dark Phoenix unveiling itself this past November. But after a big shake-up in the Fox release date calendar, both films found themselves pushed to 2019’s release slate. Which certainly hasn’t isn't a gigantic vote of confidence for either film.
With Dark Phoenix taking an earlier release date of June 7th, it’s going to be the first of the two out of the gate in the post-Disney/Fox merger world. So there’s some added pressure on the X-Men movie to deliver, as whatever the box office fate of this film tends to be, it could even influence whether or not The New Mutants will see the light of day at all. It’s not a bad thing to consider either, as if the latest mutant adjacent flavored spinoff looks like it’s going to take a dive in theaters, there’s convenient alternatives to traditional theatrical means that would put the film out for the world to enjoy. Alternatives that major studios like Paramount have taken when films like The Cloverfield Paradox were hanging in the balance of whether they were considered commercially viable or not. But let’s dig further into just why a theatrical release for The New Mutants could be worth the while.
The Case For A Theatrical Release
While The New Mutants and Dark Phoenix seem to be in the same boat, there’s still hope for the edgier property to break out of the negative buzz. Come to think of it, if The New Mutants goes through the reshoots meant to make it a potentially scarier R-rated film, that’s another qualification that’d help put the film on the path to better fortunes. Part of Dark Phoenix’s problem is that it’s following in the footsteps of its franchise predecessor, X-Men: Apocalypse. This newer class of spun-off mutants doesn’t have that same baggage, with all of the freedom to be its own thing; if it capitalizes on that possibility to the fullest, it could be a hit.
Of course, in order for this to happen, The New Mutants may need to reassign itself to a new release date in the future. More than likely, the studio could pencil the film in for one of the untitled release slots that Fox put aside for Marvel projects to be determined in 2020. This comes with the added bonus of giving Disney a chance to start testing out its release strategy between Fox's Marvel projects and the studio's own internal Marvel Studios brand. Disney could potentially get its feet wet with the X-Men by ushering out this theatrical release.
The New Mutants is an opportunity to try something new when it comes to the treatment of one of Fox’s last Marvel franchise before its acquisition. Those sorts of opportunities have served the studio well in the past, as Deadpool took similar risks in content and release strategy and went on to become one of the biggest Marvel hits outside of the MCU. Of course, this puts a lot of eggs in the basket of The New Mutants being a theatrical success. Let’s now take a look at why a streaming release might serve the film better.
The Case For A Streaming Release
It’s true that The New Mutants is an opportunity for Fox and Disney to try out a new franchise and the baggage surrounding the release of Dark Phoenix potentially limited to that film’s fortunes alone. We're getting into a lot of ifs here, but if that turns out to be the case, then a theatrical release for The New Mutants could be dead in the water. Which means debuting the film on a streaming service just might be the best bet for Disney and Fox to give the project its due, and release it instead of cutting it off from audiences completely. Whether or not the movie is good, a streaming service could be a less splashy way to get eyeballs to watch it and still make some money in the process.
Considering we haven’t seen any real material from The New Mutants, and only one trailer exists for the film, it seems that the spending decision pertaining to marketing the film has its parent studios in doubt. Were The New Mutants to jump to a streaming services such as Hulu or Disney+, the advertising spend wouldn’t have to be nearly as great as a theatrical release would be. In actuality, Disney could do the same thing Paramount did with The Cloverfield Paradox, and announce the film’s release date on the exact day the film will drop. Or, if the studio really wanted to put some finesse into their pitch, it could make a quick announcement, cut a new trailer, and slot the film’s debut into either platform’s monthly refresh.
Perhaps the greatest asset that makes The New Mutants’ potential streaming release the best course of action is the fact that no matter when Disney decides to release the film, it doesn’t have to worry about competing with any of the already programmed films set to launch from the their individual label or the Fox label for that matter. Putting this project into a new sort orbit that allows it the latitude to be released at any point without conflicting with any pre-existing gameplay on Disney or Fox’s end allows director Josh Boone the time he seems to need to get the cast together, conduct his reshoots, and put forth the best version of the film that can be made.
Where I Stand
Weighing out the pros and cons for both theatrical and streaming release options for The New Mutants, it feels like the better option for the film’s success is to give it a home on a streaming service, more than likely on the Hulu platform. This is an atypical film that doesn’t conform to the same sort of mold that the X-Men series does, despite coming from the same source universe. Marketing the film for a theatrical release could be a bit of a nightmare at this point, and even with another release date bump, the movie would still be on a tighter overall timeline to be completed for theatrical exhibition.
Meanwhile, with the freedom to launch whenever the studio damn well pleases, as well as the fact that a streaming film can debut faster than one set for theaters, there’s a lot of pressure taken off of The New Mutants’ ability to perform to traditional standards of success. It also releases this project to the public, while ensuring that the money used to make it wasn’t wasted. Even if the reshoots were cancelled altogether, and the current cut of the film was workshopped into something resembling a final cut, it’s a lower stakes game to send that finished product to Hulu or even Disney+ if it decides to get less family-friendly.
But, of course, there’s one more thing to consider when it comes to The New Mutants’ fate: the will of the people. Using the poll below, let us know if you think that these new mutant adventures should still go to the cinema, or if they should jump into the world of streaming content.
The New Mutants is currently on track for release on August 2, 2019, and will remain so according to the powers that be. Should that change for any reason, we'll break the news as we find it. in the meantime, you can take a look at what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has planned for Phases 3 and 4, in our handy guide to upcoming Marvel movies.